Terrific Crime Fiction
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 2, 2020
Candice Fox shifts location for what looks like the start of a gritty new character driven crime series from Oz to LA, but retains her trademark abilities for creating offbeat, complex and colourful characters, often downright dangerous, along with her compulsive and atmospheric prose. Blair Harbour's privileged life as a paediatric surgeon goes down the pan when she is convicted of killing a neighbour, pregnant, she gives birth to Jamie in prison, with friends Sasha and Henry fostering him. Changed by prison, addicted to ringing random strangers for conversation, she is now out on parole, working hard to keep on the straight and narrow so that she can make the case for seeing more of her now 9 year old son, the only job she can get as a ex-con at a cartel run Pump'N'Jump at night. One night, a terrified and injured young woman comes in and robs the store and takes Blair's car.
Instead of reporting the robbery, Blair takes money out of her bank account and puts it in the till to cover the stolen cash. When drug addicted Emily 'Sneak' Lawlor, so light fingered you have to be prepared to lose your possessions, turns up on Blair's doorstep, she tries to prevent her coming in, consorting with criminals will land her back in prison. However, Sneak's daughter, Dayley, has gone missing, and Sneak is desperate, and despite everything, even Jamie, Blair wants to help, besides there is a part of her that has missed the turbulent and dangerous environment of prison, so much so that she ropes in Ava Maverick, a powerful, ruthless and vicious crime lord to help find Dayley, on the basis she reckons Ava owes her. The three women turn up on LAPD detective Jessica Sanchez doorstep, asking for her input and support. Jessica is a hard working detective responsible for Blair's conviction, but is it possible she made a dreadful error?
Jessica's life as a police detective is going down the pan, any lingering perception she might have harboured of the police as family is severely tested when the police community, especially her cop partner, turn on her as one when Stan Beauvoir leaves her his multi-million dollar home. Against all the odds, Jessica's ferocious determination found the killer of his daughter, Bernice. Jessica has little intention of accepting the house, but her ire is aroused when she finds she is getting no back up, left in scenarios where her life is at risk, and constantly harrassed and assaulted. The situation deteriorates when Jessica finds herself further humiliated with the public sharing by the police of a video revealing her sexual proclivities, a video that going viral.
Despite being on opposite sides of the law, there are characteristics that Blair and Jessica have in common. Blair, after all the injustices she has faced, all that she has lost, most importantly, Jamie, not to mention all those years in prison, which by all rights should have eroded her ability to trust and help others. However, she has retained her humanity and innate compassion, continuing to put herself on the line to help a fellow prison inmate, Sneak, even though she stands to lose everything, and she keeps wanting to help others. Her judgement is not always right, but the essential goodness of her character shines through. Jessica's faith and belief in the police collapses in spectacular fashion, but she is no ordinary detective, she believes in justice, and she is willing to go to considerable lengths to see that justice is served, even when it goes against her personal interests. It is these two women, their lives and relationships that are the highlight of this wonderful piece of crime fiction from the talented Fox. Brilliant read. Many thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC.