Emmett and Cindy return

Emmett and Cindy return
Rhonda Dredge

In June 2020, Docklands News published a positive review of Katherine Firkin’s debut crime novel Sticks and Stones.

Firkin’s second crime novel is already out with the same detective Emmett Corban.

In Sticks and Stones Emmett’s wife Cindy got caught up with a dodgy photographer at District Docklands.

In The Girl Remains she has matured and is moving into press photography as a stringer for AAP.

This aspect of the novel is far more satisfying that the rather shallow, naïve portrayal of Cindy in the first.

You couldn’t actually say that Cindy has developed into an interesting character but at least she has learned how to stand up for her own career prospects.

Her interference in Emmett’s case leads to some pretty amusing scenes, including one in which his small son runs into the middle of a police raid and grabs onto Emmett’s leg.

Many of the scenes in this murder mystery are well-conceived with the added inside knowledge Firkin brings to the role of the press from her own experience in the media as a reporter for the Herald Sun and other newspapers.

Unfortunately for those seeking local colour the action has been moved to Blairgowrie which is wooded and wilder than Docklands.

Once again there are sex crimes and twists and turns in the plot in terms of hunting down the murderer.

Firkin writes in a solid, police-procedural way that is gripping, fast-paced and convincing.

My only criticism is of the end when the perpetrator is unveiled. He seems to accept his fate just a bit too readily. It might have been more satisfying for the reader if he slipped off a cliff instead of going quietly.

There are some great cameo appearances, however, particularly DSC Lanh Nguyen who works undercover as a gas meter reader to befriend the main suspect, Warren.

The scene in which Lanh follows Warren on a bike is sublime, given that the enthusiastic and intellectual Lanh has never ridden one before.

These character quirks are what make a novel sing rather than plod along.

The teenage girl victims, now 20 years older, are a bit tiresome but the description of Blairgowrie is brilliant and a long-lost daughter who sleeps rough is inspirational.

This is a complex yet extremely well plotted novel that is a pleasure to read. Hopefully Emmett and Cindy will return, even if Emmett is still trying to catch up with his son’s footy practice •

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