Follow up to PROMISE, DEAD GIRL SING again takes Richards out into the field, away from his retirement, all in the defence of somebody he feels he owes.
Triggered by a phone call from Ida, a girl he never expected to hear from again (even though he left that phone on / charged / ready), Richards is suddenly not just responsible for the life of a missing girl, but also a dead cop and two dead girls. Somehow in the middle of the notorious schoolies week on the Gold Coast, in the middle of that seething mass of hormones, alcohol and crazy that descends every year, Richards alone gets a bit of a sniff of something twisted and very determined. Somehow young women are quietly disappearing and nobody else seems to be connecting the neon-lit dots quite like Richards does.
As in PROMISE, DEAD GIRL SING has, at its core, a descent into the creepy, crazy, lunatic side of mayhem. In this case, whilst somebody is quietly disappearing young women up and down the Gold Coast, there's also that dawning idea that perhaps murder may not be the absolute worst fate that can befall. Without giving away anything of the plot, there's a slow reveal of the perpetrator here that's probably not going to come as a huge surprise (there's a bit of build up that kind of hints where we are going), there's a series of disappearances, and one young woman in particular that Richards is tracking with help from his mysterious high-tech Melbourne hacker mate.
There is so very very much in this series that you'd think I'd hate. More mad, bad protagonists, although in DEAD GIRL SING we at least have some reasons and explanation. There's all the high-tech wizardry which normally has me grinding my teeth in exasperation, and yet, in this case, the idea of Isosceles, sitting in his high-rise Melbourne tower, tracking, watching, following actually isn't that hard to believe, and is rather endearing and familiar.
But this is not a series I hate. Quite the opposite as it turns out. Despite all the things that grate just a little, I really like the Darian Richards books. Maybe it's the no-nonsense, matter-of-fact, pragmatic Richards - a lone wolf with a skewed moral compass and a form of ethics that he sticks with. Come hell or high water. Isosceles with his encyclopaedic knowledge of minutia (or a fast track on Wikipedia searches). Maria, the cop sidekick who doesn't want to be. Constantly drawn into Richard's orbit she's drawn between being a good cop and the fact that Richards get's his killers. One way or another.
Neither of these books is without flaws, but then this isn't a super-hero good guy without flaws either. Neither of these books are straightforward or comfortable reading. But they are strong, have a great sense of personality and a quintessential "Australian-ness" about the observations, dialogue and behaviour. DEAD GIRL SING is a strong second book with improvements over and above the first one. It's a series that I'd be really happy to see continue.