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Sophie Phillips is a paramedic based in the central Sydney area. Her husband, Chris, is a police officer. Both are besotted with their ten month old son, Lachlan. Life is perfect for Sophie until Chris is seriously assaulted one night while on duty. He hasn’t been the same since. He’s become introspective and short-tempered and Sophie is beginning to worry about whether their marriage has a future.
One evening while Sophie is at work, Chris answers a knock at the door and is shot in the head. The news for Sophie is worse than her husband lying in a coma. Chris had been babysitting Lachlan and now their son is missing. Detective Ella Marconi is in charge of the case and is pulling out all the stops to find who did this. There are plenty of potential suspects. Chris is a good officer who has been responsible for putting away many criminals and Sophie doesn’t always make friends in her job either. When Chris’ name is mentioned in a police corruption investigation, Sophie begins to wonder whether she really knows the man she is married to and if his strange behaviour over the past few months was due to the assault or something else.
Howell is a paramedic herself and writes with great credibility about Sophie’s working day. In fact, she writes so well about the working life of a paramedic that I found myself wishing that Howell had room in the plot for more of that aspect of Sophie’s life. I found it truly fascinating.
Howell also has a deft touch with describing Sydney. It helps that Sophie is stationed at The Rocks, right in the middle of the main tourist area of the city. Anyone who has visited Sydney will immediately recognise some of the locations.
FRANTIC is Katherine Howell’s first published novel and one that shows great promise. The action starts on page one and maintains its momentum until the very last paragraph. Sophie’s tactics aren’t always very well thought out, but that also reflects her state of mind. I did find some of her actions a bit over the top and there was no resolution in regard to consequences of some of her more outrageous behaviour. It is a minor quibble though and I look forward to Howell’s next book, in which I hope she will make more use of her insider knowledge of life as a paramedic.
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