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Fetish by Tara Moss

Tara Moss, a Canadian immigrant living in Australia, receives a lot of publicity for being a glamorous ex-model, public speaker and presenter. She's also a good writer. Fetish, her first novel, became a bestseller.

She based the book partly on her own background as the main character, Makedde Vanderwall, is a Canadian model working in Australia. While on a photo shoot in Sydney, Makedde stumbles across the body of her best friend Catherine, who has been tortured and murdered by a serial killer. She soon meets the detective in charge of the investigation, Andy Flynn, and starts a relationship with him. Unfortunately, the serial killer takes an interest in her too.

Makedde is different from the average model in that she's a PHD student in forensic psychology and the daughter of a police detective. She takes self defence classes and carries makeshift weapons in her handbag. None of this helps her, however, as she not only fails to identify the serial killer but nearly becomes his next victim, only just being rescued in time by her boyfriend. It's a bit of a disappointment that she doesn't use her special skills and knowledge. It's rather cliched having her boyfriend rescue her.

Tara does a lot of research for her novels. The biography at the front of the book says that she's visited the FBI academy, talked to the LAPD and gone to conferences on polygraphs, psychopathy and criminology. Whether it's necessary to do all that in order to write novels is open to question, but it surely makes for an interesting life. Presumably, the details in this novel are accurate, such as the description of the Glebe morgue and her explanation of psychopaths. Fortunately, the murders aren't described in detail, but sound quite gruesome anyway.

Fetish is typical of the sort of murder mysteries being published these days, both in Australia and elsewhere. It's full of gritty realism and plot twists and will keep you guessing until the end.


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