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Malicious Intent


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The first book by Kathryn Fox, a Sydney general practitioner, centres on Anya Crichton, a forensic pathologist and physician. Crichton is asked by the police to look into a suspicious death ruled a suicide by the coroner. The results are strange and inconclusive: the dead woman had unidentified fibres in her lungs as well as a rare and untreatable form of herpes, but no signs of physical injury prior to death. The ruling looks like remaining suicide until Crichton stumbles across another case with remarkable similarities, and then another. Suddenly it looks less like self-harm and more like the work of a serial killer. Crichton is a believable and sympathetic character, and the sometimes complex medical evidence is clearly conveyed through her voice and neat, natural dialogue. However, the lack of any viable alternatives means the villain’s identity is easily guessed early in the plot, leaching the climax of genuine power. A plucky ending, where Crichton is left wondering whether she has ultimately been successful, may leave readers unsatisfied. At the same time, it may well lead them on to the next book in the series, which Fox is currently working on. An interesting debut from a talented writer. Sophie Groom is manager of Angus & Robertson Hurstville. C. 2004 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

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