Dead Certain

Reviewed by Andy Smart

Grand Opera, full of backstage bitching and infighting. The plots are grandiose and the people larger than life with egos the size of small nations; but which one of them killed leading tenor Collis Raeburn? This is the mystery which confronts Sydney cop, Detective Inspector Carol Ashton and her team in Dead Certain. At first sight it looks like suicide, but the family are very keen that it should appear to be an accident - the reason being that a full inquest would reveal Raeburn to have been HIV positive and they want his memory unsullied.

The book is well up to the standard of McNab's other Carol Ashton novels, tighly written and hard to solve. I really had not got a clue right up to the end, and in retrospect McNab had left plenty for me to find. Of course in retrospect it was clear who did it, hindsight being a wonderful thing.

This is also important in that it is Carol Aston's 'coming out' novel. When the book starts she is firmly in the closet, even refusing to go with her lover to a colleague's wedding as a couple. However during the book she is threatened by a blackmailer and decides that she has to tell her superiors. This is done in the ususal forthright Ashton manner and I found it a dignified and quite touching moment.

Up until Dead Certain I have never been able to make up my mind if I liked the Carol Ashton novels or not, which is odd as I have read quite a few. However this novel had made up my mind for me - expect more reviews of books from this author in the near future!

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