Web of Deceit
Pan Macmillan Australia
When paramedics Jane and Alex encounter a man refusing to get out of his crashed car with bystanders saying he deliberately drove into a pole, it looks like a cry for help. His claim that someone is out to get him adds to their thinking that he is delusional.
Later that day he is found dead under a train in what might be a suicide, but Jane is no longer so sure: she remembers the terror in his eyes.
Detective Ella Marconi shares Jane’s doubts, which are only compounded when the case becomes increasingly tangled. The victim’s boss tries to commit suicide when being questioned, a witness flees their attempt to interview her and a woman is beaten unconscious in front of Jane’s house.
Ella is at a loss to know how all these clues add up and then a shocking turn of events puts even more people in danger…
I like Australian crime writers who write clever, well structured, intricate plots with well developed and empathetic protagonists and I am now a fan of Katherine Howell – why haven’t I heard this name before in Australian Literature? I will certainly be adding her to my list of authors to seek out.
Web of Deceit is a story told from two points of view – from the perspectives of a female detective – Ella Marconi and paramedics Alex and Jane working in metropolitan Sydney. What appear to be two competing story lines in fact are revealed to be one – a complicated and involved story of lies and deceit, of fear and retribution; on the surface the waters appear calm and innocuous but there is lots happening under the water. Treachery is everywhere – it is not reserved for the “street” or the criminal underworld; it is in the workplace, which has become a time management, penny pinching environment where outcomes and not people matter (haven’t we all worked for places/people like this at some point?), where the climb up the greasy pole is the utmost importance – to some – but not to Ella, Alex and Jane. Treachery is in the home – where relationships are tested and deceit – by omission or by lie effect all. Howell cleverly demonstrates that life is complicated, relationships are tricky and need effort and mostly, we are all just trying to do our best, the emphasis on mostly.
This narrative is complex with well written; an enthralling sequence of events, of coincidences (or are they?) and of consequences that culminate in one moment of terror. The main characters are appealing, likable, I loved the city street-scapes, the reality of lives – the familiar and the fly on the wall observations of others work and routines. Howell presents a story of intrigue that is guaranteed to have you staying up late so as to finish this book.