Moss, Tara - 'Hit'
HIT is an introduction for a UK readership to Makedde Vanderwall, ex-model turned PI, based in Sydney, Australia. Makedde (known as Mak) is an independent, attractive person, but boy has she had some awful experiences in her past - her best friend was murdered, she's been kidnapped and raped, and so on. There seem to have been several books before HIT telling these stories, which is frustrating for the UK reader, who is provided with frequent chunks of catch-up back-story interspersed with the current plot to ensure we understand where Mak is coming from.
Mak is now living with Andy, a policeman who has evidently rescued her after a horrific ordeal in a previous novel. Andy is somewhat semi-detached, and at the start of HIT leaves the country to learn criminal profiling, spending time with his work friends immediately beforehand rather than making the most of his remaining time with Mak. It is pretty obvious that the writing is on the wall for their relationship, not least because of Mak's growing interest in a character called Bogey whom she meets during the course of her investigations.
The crime plot of HIT is kicked off when a guest at a party held by a playboy millionaire sees, or thinks she sees, a young Thai girl being murdered by someone who is possibly the host. She films the event on her mobile phone, but in turn is spotted by Simon, the playboy's minder, who breaks her phone, takes her home and, it is implied, either murders her or has her murdered. Mak comes into this situation when she is hired by the older man who escorted the victim to the party, who wants to know the truth of how the woman died - as he suspects a cover-up.
Mak tracks down the dead woman's friends and family, gradually uncovering the conspiracy at considerable danger to herself. There's plenty of suspense, but the plot is somewhat cliched. There are some really silly passages, such as Mak's tedious forays into lap-dancing and "fetish" clubs, but if one can skate over these and some of the other padding in the book, the story is quite good even if barely realistic at times. Mak has to carry the novel, and basically, she does. She's perhaps based in part on the author herself, but she certainly comes alive on the page whereas the other characters are flat. Mak is an easy person to admire, being vulnerable yet independent, and tough yet sensible. HIT is written in an engaging, attractive style, though at over 550 pages the novel is far too long for its content. It verges too much towards romantic fiction, describing events without really conveying them on an emotional level, for my taste. It's a light, escapist read that passes the time pleasantly enough without being in any sense profound.
Maxine Clarke, England
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