Opening up with a duck hunting scene that will stay with readers for a while, THE ECHO OF OTHERS is a debut novel set in my part of the world - Central and parts of Western Victoria. There's a heap of potential here - from a good solid, cleverly structured plot; some excellent characters - including Detective Rachael Schlank who finds herself working on old cases, leading her back to her early days in Vic Police and a particular fellow officer who she worked with out of the main Bendigo police station.
The plot revolves around a series of what appears to be vigilante killings - the victims perpetrators of various forms of animal cruelty and exploitation. That aspect is handled well so there's nothing in here that will be too much for readers opposed to graphic descriptions or details. Schlank quickly suspects there's more connections than just geographical in the cold case death of two animal activists and the current spate of killings, as it leads her into some pretty dark places.
Alongside a strong plot, there's some excellent characterisations in THE ECHO OF OTHERS. Schlank is a good example of the dogged investigator type, surrounded by sexists, idiots and nasty types which isn't overplayed. The trope of the cold case unit's a good one to give both cases, potential suspects, and Schlank some background without having to laboriously hammer it into place, so pace is unaffected by background and build up, and everything moves forward constantly, pulling the reader further and further into the cases as the number of victims grow.
The author's bio mentions that S.D. Rowell is interested in the interplay between culture, morality and truth, explored in THE ECHO OF OTHERS. Can't disagree with any of that, THE ECHO OF OTHERS is an outstanding debut novel.