Eden Archer, Australia’s answer to Dexter Morgan, and her damaged partner Frank Bennett are back at work in Fall, investigating a series of murders of women joggers. Underlying this investigation is another one by Frank’s lover (and former psychologist) Imogen, who solves cold cases in her spare time and is closing in on Eden’s true identity. There is plenty else going on in Fall, with Eden’s ex-crimelord father Hades having a cameo and a potential new recurring character added to the mix.
In some ways, Fall feels like the novel that Fox might have written as the follow up to her debut Hades. It features another serial killer, and in some respects follows the pattern of other procedurals of its type. But the continuing impact of events in her follow-up, Eden, the investigation into Eden’s past and Fox’s style lift Fall out of the usual serial killer chase genre.
With every novel, Fox is more in control of her craft. While her mix of first and third person narration in Hades sometimes felt forced, by this third outing the constant shifts of point of view happen effortlessly and serve to ratchet up the narrative tension. Particularly amusing and effective are the differences between Frank’s first-person view of the women around him and their perception of him.
Plenty of books of this type have two dimensional antagonists. But here the killer is given a rich, disturbing history and some twisted justification for her actions. This is serial killer point of view done well. But the killer is just one of the many damaged characters who anchor the plot. Every character has secrets, and each of the main characters is damaged. Fox explores the ways in which each character handles their pain.
Fox has improved with every book in this series and Archer and Bennett are two of the most complex, interesting characters in Australian crime fiction at the moment. And while it will be interesting to read the novel that she is co-writing with James Patterson, it will be interesting to see where she takes Archer and Bennett next.