Review - Deadly Diplomacy, Jean Harrod

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

The Author of DEADLY DIPLOMACY has a background as a diplomat working for many years in Embassies and High Commissions in Australia, Brussels, the Caribbean, China, East Berlin, Indonesia, Mauritius and Switzerland. Her indepth knowledge of the workings of that world stands out in this novel, with her protagonist, Jess Turner, the British Consul in Canberra. 

Called upon to support the sister of the victim, Turner is quickly dragged into the investigation. Setting up a diplomat and a cop being forced to co-operate is an unusual approach, but the inclusion of the possibility of corruption and big money in the background helps to provide a scenario where the political, business, crime and international elements all combine giving both viewpoints a perfectly legitimate and believable reason for being there.

Unfortunately, what works less well is the dialogue. No denying this is a frequent bugbear of this particular reader’s but the importance of dialogue in establishing a connection with characters is paramount for me at least. Alas, much of the dialogue here came across as particularly tinny. From “worker” Australian’s dropping their g’s everywhere, whilst white collar ”worker” appeared to be able to hang onto them very reliably, through to some uncomfortably formal exchanges between locals, there was much in the dialogue that did not work to the point where it distracted from the plot. Whilst that might not necessarily be an issue for overseas readers, it’s a pity that there appears to be an implication here about class in a society, when verbal ticks are more likely to be as a result of location of birth than position in society. 

Because the focus is very much on Jess Turner, reader’s reactions to her are likely to dictate the level of connection with this novel. If you sympathise with her that her over problems with senior colleagues, how difficult it must be to negotiate the world of criminals, corruption and murders whilst treading a diplomatic and cautious path then your enjoyment of this novel is going to be hugely enhanced. She’s an interesting character, and as indicated earlier, the way that she operates / works / functions within her role is obviously well informed and very believable.

Of course yet another conspiracy, corruption, big-government and business up to stuff scenario isn’t particularly new, but it’s well constructed here, and quite engaging. Perhaps if it was set in another part of the world, where the formality might feel more natural, and the verbal ticks weren’t quite so grating DEADLY DIPLOMACY would have made a bigger impact for this particular reader.

Year of Publication
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Diplomat Jess Turner is the British Consul in Canberra. When a British businesswoman is brutally murdered in a Queensland resort, Jess travels to Brisbane to liaise with the police, and help the victim’s next of kin, her journalist sister, Susan. 

Queensland DI Tom Sangster is assigned the case; but the Federal Government is very interested in it too. The murder victim was negotiating a multi-billion dollar deal to supply LNG to China, and soon rumours of corruption swirl around the intelligence community. Was she taking Chinese bribes? 

Jess is taken aback by Susan’s deep suspicion of the police. When Susan snatches her sister’s diary and disappears – and two more high profile murders follow in quick succession – the race is on to find Susan and the diary before the killer does. 

Jess and Sangster, each with their own pieces of the puzzle, must work together to solve this case. 

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