Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Skin And Bone" by Kathryn Fox

Detective Kate Farrer has just returned to work after suffering a traumatic experience in her previous case. It's not long before she's called to a crime scene with new partner Detective Oliver Parke, in which the burnt body of a woman has been discovered in a house fire. Investigations soon reveal that she was killed before being burnt, likely through a blow to the head.

Even more work gets thrown on her plate when her boss asks the duo to investigate the apparent disappearance of Candice Penfold. Her parents Robert and Janine are fairly certain that her former school coach Mark Dobbie might have something to do with it, as he was apparently obsessed with Candice's prettier, smarter older sister Lesley. When Candice's car is discovered with blood in the backseat, things are not looking good.

The more Kate and Oliver investigate, the more links they uncover between the two cases, as Kate struggles to come to terms with her past horrors.

I wish there had been a little more detail as to what horrors Kate experienced when she was kidnapped by a killer, presumably in the previous book. The book makes various references to it here and there, but I guess doesn't want to ruin the end of the previous book for those who haven't read it, and therefore remains frustratingly vague about the torment Kate suffered. Since Kate is such an insolent, immature and narky pain-in-the-ass for much of the novel, a bit more detail about her trauma would have gone a long way towards me being more tolerable of her tiresome attitude and behaviour.

Although "Skin And Bone" is an efficiently plotted and decently written thriller, there is absolutely nothing here to elevate it above your standard police procedural. The attempts to build mystery around the character of Oliver - is he a good guy or a bad guy - are pretty feeble and see-through. And since Kate doesn't think highly of anybody - seriously, she doesn't have a positive thing to say about anything - her opinion of Oliver doesn't exactly count for much. He could feed a thousand people with a small piece of bread and she would likely just roll her eyes and call him a show-off.

Another irritating element, though minor, was Kate's continual pining for Bobby, apparently a boyfriend of hers who died ten years ago. I know we need characters to come with a little baggage, but Kate's inability to get past the loss of her teenage love suggests a woman who, well, refuses to grow up. Which is more than evident in the immature manner she constantly displays to everybody.

Like I said, this is a police procedural through and through. It's not the worst of its kind - far from it - but as it stands is so generic that in two months I'll likely forget I even read it.

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