Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Covet" by Tara Moss

Makedde Vanderwall is studying to become a forensic psychologist, but supports herself through work as a model. She has to return to Australia for the trial of Ed Brown, the sadistic serial killer who nearly made her his final victim. This also brings her into proximity with Andy Flynn, the detective she became involved with during Ed Brown's killing spree.

Before the trial can even go ahead, Ed Brown unexpectedly changes his plea to guilty. Everybody believes this means they can put the past behind them. Little do they know, Ed has seduced Suzie Harpin, a guard at the facility he was being kept. Together they have arranged his escape during an organised visit to a crime scene in which he claims one of his victims can be found. His escape severely injures several police officers.

After learning of Ed Brown's escape, Makedde decides to take off to Hong Kong for a modelling assignment. Suzie, who has murdered her own brother so that she and Ed can live together in her brother's house, isn't too happy when Ed insists on dragging her along to Hong Kong so that he can finally finish what he started with Makedde.

"Covet" is a direct sequel to "Fetish", which I have read. It was a generic but readable serial killer thriller, if not particularly memorable. The follow-up "Split" was a much more accomplished and suspenseful novel, despite the familiar plot-line. Unfortunately, any promise in her previous novels is absent for this plodding, so-called thriller. The narrative holds zero surprises, and the proceedings have absolutely no suspense. Ed Brown's escape, supposedly the driving force behind this sequel, doesn't even happen until about half-way through the book. Up until that point, it's mostly taken up with some tawdry sex scenes, emotional soap-opera style ups-and-downs regarding Makkede and Andy's relationship, and Ed Brown repeatedly saying to himself I'm coming for you Makkede, like something out of a really bad Lisa Jackson novel. After the fifth chapter in which he says this, I'd had more than enough.

It really only got worse from there. The remainder of the book is just in a holding pattern until a rushed climax. Ed Brown continues to promise Makkede he's coming for her. Makkede keeps reassuring herself that everything is fine and Ed Brown isn't in Hong Kong. Realistically speaking, if she wants to hide from a sadistic serial killer who's obsessed with her, taking a high-profile modelling job in Hong Kong isn't the best way to go about it.

Strangely enough, although Makkede is deeply traumatised by her previous experiences at the mercy of Ed Brown, there is nary a mention of the turmoil she experienced in "Split". Actually, there's one reference, but Makkede shuts the enquirer down with the explanation that it's a no-go zone. Why is it a  no-go zone? Is being at the mercy of a killer who hunts women for sport somehow less traumatic than a killer who cuts off toes? Or more?

I actually really wanted to like "Covet" not only based on the fact that the previous books demonstrated an author who was only getting better, but also because if you see Tara Moss on television you'll see an extremely attractive (she was a model herself) and intelligent person. I guess I expected more than a one-note plotline with soapy overtones and zero - and I do mean zero - plot twists.

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