Edgy, fast-moving crime mystery at its best

dorothyjohnston_fourthseason_web_finalI just finished reading Dorothy Johnston’s fourth novel in her “Mystery Quartet” The Fourth Season and I almost couldn’t put it down.  And it’s accumulating 5 star reviews on Amazon. I haven’t read the three earlier novels in the series, The Trojan Dog, The White Tower and Eden but I can see why they were so well-received and they are now right at the top of my ‘to-read’ list.  They are all published by Wakefield  Press in Australia.   Crime mysteries have been one of my favourites for I don’t know how long and I’m still entranced.by Agatha Christie’s tales and the world of Hercule Poirot, just as I was with the unapologetically introspective and sometimes perilous  journey of cyber-sleuth Sandra Mahoney as she seeks to unravel two murders of far from innocent young people caught up in the slimy world of gangland crime and vicious environmental politics.  It’s a mystery that keeps the reader deeply engaged and completely in the dark about who committed these terrible crimes and why, while our cyber-sleuth, who’s been drawn into the investigation by her fickle partner, Ivan’s infatuation with the beautiful young victim of the first murder, intrepidly works her way towards an unexpected solution with not that much assistance from her ailing old police buddy, DS Brook, before he allows himself an early retirement.  The characters are wholly believable and compelling as is the parallel plot of Mahoney’s difficult home life with her children and grieving, mildly annoying partner and father of her second child; the child who herself becomes a pawn in the final unravelling of the mystery. The unusual setting in conservative Canberra, Australia’s capital city, and the wild waters of Bass Strait adds an exotic note as readers in other countries may well not be familiar with those part of the world.  The author’s narrative style lends itself to the edgy uncertainty inherent in the reporting  of a police and murder mystery though some readers may find it a little unexpected to begin with. The investigation unravels with twists and turns worthy of an Agatha Christie tale and keeps the reader guessing.  Perhaps the drama of the final capture of the main villain might have permitted the author a brief departure from her conscious narrative style and resort to a first-hand blow-by-blow account, but that might not be to most readers’  taste and is little more than an instant in this totally absorbing, fast-paced and tightly written crime mystery by this talented Australian author.

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