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Detective Kate Farrer returns to duty after three months of leave following her traumatic abduction. Partnering homicide newcomer Oliver Parke, they are thrown into the investigation of a woman burnt beyond recognition in a house-fire. The pair is also requested to look into the disappearance of a teenage girl. Suspicion falls on the unsavoury Mark Dobbie, a steroid user who is obsessed with the missing girl's sister. While the pressure to identify the charred body and find the teenage girl escalates, a quadriplegic is burnt to death in his bed. Shocking links to all three crimes emerge and Kate Farrer's past demons come back to haunt her. But she must fight them - lives depend on it.
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Kathryn Fox's third crime novel following Malicious Intent and Without Consent does not feature Dr Anya Crichton, the main character in the first two books, but instead centres on detective sergeant Kate Farrar, whom we last met in Malicious Intent. Kate has returned to work after her ordeal in that novel and some much-needed leave and has a new partner, detective constable Oliver Parke. The novel starts with the discovery of a dead woman in a burnt-out house who turns out to be an unknown mother. Given the author's interest in forensic medicine, you will get to learn a lot about the effects of fire on the human body and a number of other forensic points as well. Kate and Oliver are then moved onto another seemingly highly political case of a missing daughter. How these separate cases come together makes up the plot of this excellent new novel. I have to admit to being a fan and I found Skin and Bone to be 'unputdownable'-the characters and their problems kept me interested to the very last page. The setting is Sydney and Fox demonstrates a good knowledge of the city and the seamier side of what happens there. If crime novels with a forensic and police procedural background are your thing, then Skin and Bone is not to be missed. Peter Milne is deputy managing director of Abby's Bookshop and a crime aficionado

Homicide detective Kate Farrer, having tentatively recovered from being held captive by a psychopath, returns to work and catches an arson case that has left a woman dead. Forensics reveal that the woman had recently given birth; no baby is found. Kate and new rookie partner Oliver Parke investigate until sidetracked by the disappearance of a wealthy teenage girl. In the meantime, the entire unit is under investigation for corruption, with Kate herself falling under suspicion while suspecting her new partner. Fox strews just enough clues to keep readers guessing, then twists the plot assuredly. Both Farrer and Parke are delightful turns on the standard "veteran and rookie" buddy pairing, as Oliver demonstrates fresh ideas and reasoning that make him an excellent counterpart for Kate's cynicism and experience. Fox ties several story lines together deftly, and the forensics (Fox is an Australian physician-turned-author) enrich the story. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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