Nina B Campbell’s debut literally opens with a bang. Detective Emilia Hart is on the steps of the Sydney District Court when a high profile defence lawyer is shot right in front of her. This is only the first crime in a wave that will send the city and the country into crisis. And following this explosive opening Campbell continues to pull out all stops to keep the tension high.
After being put on and then dumped from the investigation of the killing, Hart is put on another case but quickly finds the two are connected. A third killing in a similar fashion has the team scrambling and soon there are copycat killings in Melbourne and a manifesto from a group calling itself the Daughters of Eve who claim to be taking revenge against men who commit domestic and sexual violence. In Melbourne, Hart reunites with Matt a local detective and historical one night stand. Meanwhile the killings escalate, mens’ groups start to march in the streets and the army is called out. Through this Hart is also trying to manage Matt’s renewed interest in her and support her two adopted daughters, themselves both victims of abuse.
There is a lot going on in Daughters of Eve and the plotting and resolution rely on a few too many coincidences. But Campbell manages to keep the pages turning so that many readers will just go along for the ride rather than worrying about some of the implausibilities of the action. She does this by creating a flawed, engaging protagonist in Emilia Hart and allowing her to be both professional and human. The plot is as much driven by Hart’s relationships with her colleagues, her superiors her daughters and with Matt as it is by the actions of the Daughters of Eve. And unlike much recent Australian crime fiction, Daughters of Eve is firmly metropolitan with most of the action taking place on the well realised streets of Sydney.
Daughters of Eve has more on its mind though than crime solving and action set pieces. Campbell has a point to make about domestic and sexual violence and about the weight put on these crimes by the system. She specifically calls out the size of the response to the actions of the Daughters of Eve as compared to that given over to the many women who are killed and injured every year by their partners.
So while some of the action sometimes feels over the top, the resolution a little unbelievable and the romance element can be a little corny, Campbell has something important to say and she will keep readers engaged and turning the pages while she says it. This is another assured Australian crime fiction debut and another rising author to watch.
Comments are closed.