Karen M. Davis
Simon & Schuster AU
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Lexie Rogers worked as a uniformed police officer in Sydney’s Kings Cross for eight years before an attack by a bikie nearly took her life. Having recovered, she’s now been posted to Bondi Junction as a detective and her first case throws her headlong into a simmering feud between two rival bikie clubs in Sydney’s more glamorous eastern suburbs. The Assassins and the Devils Outlaws have a long and chequered history and it seems that the tense ceasefire might be about to go up in smoke.
Lexie forms part of a detective team that executes a search on the clubhouse of one of the bikie clubs, the Devils Outlaws, uncovering a small stash of drugs. The sergeant-at-arms for the club, Rex Donaldson is adamant he’s been set up by the opposing club after delivering a beating to one of their members for touching Rex’s pregnant girlfriend inappropriately. Not long after, Lexie and her temporary partner Josh Harrison return to the clubhouse after reports of a shooting. One of the members of the Devils is bleeding out on the floor and before the ambulance arrives, he manages to whisper something to Lexie – a “dying declaration” giving her his shooter’s identity. The trouble is she doesn’t know what it means and all the searches they do of the bikie world turns up nothing.
Despite her fear for the biker type after the vicious attack she suffered, Lexie realises that she doesn’t need to fear Rex Donaldson. She knows that he knows a lot more than she’s letting on and she’s trying to get the identification of the shooter out of him before he goes off and does something stupid, like some form of personal retaliation. However it is Rex that recognises that by having heard the dying declaration, Lexie is in great danger. From having her life almost taken by one, Lexie might have to rely on an outlaw to save it.
I really love crime novels that are set in Australia and this is a fantastic new release that delves deep into the seedy side of the local bikie groups that populate various parts of the country. I live in Melbourne and every other day it seems like some clubhouse of some bikie chapter is being raided for some reason or other so it’s clearly an area that has plenty of fodder for a good story. And Karen M Davis is a former police officer who has a lot of knowledge of procedure and the dynamics of a police station to work with.
Lexie is a new detective who still has to prove herself one of the team at her new station in Bondi Junction and it’s unfortunate that their first big case involves two feuding bike groups, given her vicious assault at the hands of one only several months earlier. Add to that Lexie is still grieving over the death of her brother, also a police officer who was shot and killed on the job and also the breakdown of her marriage. To make matters worse, Bondi Junction is where her brother’s former partner works as well. Although an inquest cleared him of any wrongdoing in her brother’s death, Lexie still really has her suspicions.
I found myself really enjoying the characters in this novel, particularly the damaged Lexie and the fellow detective she is partnered up with, Josh. He has his own issues, not least a predilection for alcohol which is growing into quite the dependency. He and Lexie are fighting an attraction to the other from the beginning but Lexie is wary of becoming involved with someone she works with (as is Josh, who is also ranked above her). She doesn’t want to become the locker room joke because she’s had others attempt to hit on her with various shades of seriousness. But she and Josh do have more than just a physical attraction, there’s something deeper underneath. To get there though they have to give in to the sexual attraction first.
The other character that I found really interesting was Rex Donaldson, the sergeant-at-arms for the Devils. He’s a big bloke, very big and angry when his chapter house is raided. His pregnant girlfriend Kate is just as angry and with each interaction the police had with Rex, he interested me more. I began to slowly piece him together in my head (had a few guesses about him, turned out to be right in the end on some!) and found myself really wanting to know far more about him than this book let on. He obviously had led a very interesting life to be where he was so effortlessly – I think I could’ve read a whole book that revolved around him. He was a multi-layered character with enough information to put things together but so much more was left a mystery.
If there was one thing I thought could’ve been a little bit more mysterious, it was how easy it was to figure out who the killer was. I’m notorious for not being able to get “whodunnits” until the big reveal but I do have to say that I found this one incredibly easy to crack. It didn’t really take away from the action and pace of the story though or my enjoyment. I think I would’ve liked to have been more surprised by who it was, instead of making it seem very obvious simply by the character attributed to the killer.
I’m not sure if this is stand alone or if it’s going to be part of a series – it could go either way. This case is resolved but I’d love to read more about the Bondi detectives in the future.
Book #199 of 2013
Sinister Intent is the 79th book read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013