Kingdom of the Strong by Tony Cavanaugh, Netgalley copy, July 2015, 368p.
Kingdom of the Strong was the first book by Cavanaugh, and honestly I don’t know why I hadn’t picked one up sooner. I read so many books in which the main character is a hard cop who sometimes crosses the line – but for some reason I overlooked this Aussie writer, who is setting these brilliant cop stories in Australia. Kingdom of the Strong was set in Melbourne, and although the furthest east I have ever lived is Adelaide, I have visited Melbourne and know street names, famous places and events. This makes the book so much more relevant and suspenseful!
I really like Cavanaugh’s character of Richards- he is hard, brilliant and confused about his life. He certainly doesn’t have everything sorted out; he has turned his back on his career, the woman he loves, and his friends. When one of his oldest friends and mentor finds him and asks him to head up an investigation, he feels obliged to say yes.
What follows is a crazy look into Melbourne in the 1990’s and how the characters then have progressed with their lives. The death that Darian is investigating is convoluted, with at least three suspects who have motive and opportunity. The investigation is hurried because of political factors. I found the plot exciting and unpredictable – the end did shock me, but in the sort of way that you come to the realisation with the detective. As Darian was uncovering the truth, we were being let into the mystery too.
I really enjoyed the cast of characters in this book – Darian’s friend and always hungry fellow cop is Maria, who is dating a very interesting character of Casey. The character that stuck in my mind the most was that of Racine, who is such a grey but despicable character from the get go. He made my skin crawl on a couple of occasions.
I’m going to hunt down copies of the first three books in this series, and add them to my ever increasing TBR.