Sandra Mahoney and her partner Ivan are security consultants, so what she is doing poking around the death by natural causes of a well known politician seems to confuse Sandra as much as everybody else. In EDEN, the third Sandra Mahoney series book by Dorothy Johnston, Sandra is home alone - Ivan and their daughter Katya are in Russia visiting his relations and it's summer in Canberra. Sandra had originally planned to spend summer on the coast - with her son, but she's at a bit of a loose end when he heads off to Tasmania with his father, leaving her in hot, slightly dismal Canberra at a time when everybody else is normally somewhere else. The death of Carmichael originally just seems a bit bizarre sure - the wig and a dress for a start - and then in a brothel, but Carmichael had hit the headlines before when his last heart attack had him doing a spectacular swan dive off a staircase in full view of half of Canberra society. Nobody really thought he would survive that attack, and everyone knew he was retiring from parliament and slowing down. Sandra's interest is triggered when there seems to be some sort of connection between Carmichael and something Ivan's been working on. The Australian government has just passed Internet censorship legislation and the companies that make the filter software are juggling for position as preferred supplier.
The interesting thing about EDEN is that Carmichael's death isn't suspicious in itself, other than it being slightly odd, and there are some interesting connections between him and the Internet censorship legislation but there's nothing much else to go on. Except maybe a sneaking suspicion that people, who shouldn't be quite this interested in the events surrounding his death and the legislation, seem to be interested and the investigation that Ivan had already done into the background of one of the leading contender companies has turned up some rather odd coincidences.
There are a lot of things that appeal about EDEN. The central character is female, slightly flawed - but not annoyingly so, persistent, capable and conflicted. Her family life is so consistent with that hybrid type of family that's common these days, she's happy with Ivan and annoyed by Ivan and ever so slightly attracted to a local cop. The sub-cast of characters - the brothel owner Margot, the prostitute Denise who was with him when he died play a major part in building up the story of the book, as do some of the lesser profiled characters - such as Carmichael's political rival but close friend Ken Dollimore. The plot's nicely complicated, providing a real balance for the idea that there is no suspicious death at the beginning of this story.
There is crime being committed here, and people who have questions to answer for their actions. At the end of the book you just can't help but feel that Eden Carmichael deserved better.