My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Uncorrected Proof won on publisher’s FB comp
A crime novel set in my own backyard was what I thought drew me to this novel. Ever since reading the Detective Jill Jackson series by Leah Giarratano, I’ve been somewhat nervous each time I had to go to a certain train station ~a certain fictional event is haunting me. Drive By, though set in Western Sydney, wasn’t quite in my hood and for that, I think I’m grateful.
Despite the comparison to Peter Temple’s works in the blurb, which I have read and loved, I approached this work somewhat hesitantly. The cover has a look of non-fiction and I must say, not quite attractive to fiction lovers like myself. However, when you take in consideration the author’s background as a journalist, the cover totally makes sense.
Drive By is told from 3 alternative perspectives –each as different as s/he could be. Bec, Rebecca Ralston, is a young Constable ensnared in a circumstance and left to fend for herself with nary a person to turn to who hasn’t got their own agendas. She, interestingly, is 1/8 Indigenous and protected herself with big words. Jabber ‘John’ Habib, Honest John, was told by his family that he must stand on the other side of the line in the sand –to be a law-abiding citizen. His love for his family drives him to do all he can to keep them safe yet it also blinds him. The prosecutor, Karen Mabbey, hasn’t been able to care about her work; not since her life feels like it’s spiralling out of her control.
The beginning feels quite slow to me though what fascinated me were the characters. I had to roll my eyes / snort each time Bec’s wordy speech, was driven to frustration by John’s slow uptake or may be even selective blindness, and felt nothing but sympathy for Karen. At about 2/3 of the way, however, I was jolted by a twist and then again and again… It was turn after turn in a complex layer of duplicity with a mind blowing conclusion. I must confess though after this whirlwind of the plot, where each of the characters end up didn’t really surprise me though I wish for something somewhat different (what can I say, I’m an optimist :p).
The reference to Peter Temple’s works though is not due to the writing style as it is quite different but in reference to the bold un-crossable line between the crims and law-enforcers. And this was quite evident in the novel. <Drive By is hands-down the best crime novel I’ve read so far this year and one I would highly recommend to all crime readers.
Thanks, Allen & Unwin, for the giveaway