Cath Ferla is a Melbourne-based writer with a background in screenwriting and script editing, educational publishing and arts writing. Also a trained teacher, Cath has taught English as an Acquired Language (EAL) in Melbourne, Sydney and Beijing.
Review - LEONA: The Die is Cast, Jenny Rogneby
A naked and bloody seven-year-old girl walks into a bank, clutching a grubby teddy bear. She plays a threatening recording, demanding money. No one dares intervene.
The child leaves the bank and disappears, without leaving a trace of evidence.
Any readers looking for something different - LEONA: THE DIE IS CAST could be just the ticket. There's so much here in the writing, and the styling that is very brave of this author.
Leona Lindberg is both a highly regarded investigator and an outsider. She has a personality disorder which makes her a tricky person to work with, and an even harder protagonist for a reader to establish a connection with. Her internal dialogue clearly shows she's aware of her limitations, that her interactions with others are flawed, and able to moderate that to some extent. Every now and again her true self breaks out though - and she offends, and annoys many around her.
She's also the one that's more than willing to take on yet another case in a workload that's killing her and her colleagues - the really odd case of a naked, bloody young girl who has robbed a bank.
Whilst that case, and subsequent crimes by this young child stay in the forefront of the investigation aspects of the book, Lindberg's personal life, her family and her background are slowly revealed. There is much that gives pause for thought about this protagonist, and whilst you might struggle to see her in the role of victim, there's a real challenge being thrown at the reader throughout this book. Getting inside the head of somebody who is so different, so blatant and so matter-of-fact about her own self-interest isn't a straight-forward experience, but it's very worthwhile in LEONA. The reveals are built deftly into the narrative, in exactly the matter-of-fact style you'd expect of somebody like Lindberg, and there's no doubt whatsoever from the very start that there's something about her that's not quite right.
Spending time in Lindberg's head is hard work to be honest, she's not the nicest of people to be around, and her ruthless use and disregard for everyone around her is startling, fascinating and profoundly discomforting. It's also instructive and, for this reader, surprisingly moving in the end. This is a woman who simply doesn't seem to give a damn about anybody else, and for a while readers will have to wonder why.
Needless to say the revelations come solidly throughout LEONA and saying much about the actual plot is difficult without huge spoilers. But if you're lucky enough to get a chance to read this book, no matter how off-putting you find your initial introduction to Leona Lindberg, stick with it. This is an unusual approach to the psychological crime thriller, from a style of crime fiction that concentrates on "why", rather than who or how or gotcha.