Review - Jinx, Hugh McGinlay
Set within the hipster world of inner Melbourne lane-ways, cafes and bright young things, JINX is the debut crime fiction novel from local musician and writer Hugh McGinlay. A light-hearted, comedic styled novel, JINX introduces ex-police investigator, now accidental amateur detective, raconteur and milliner Catherine Kint and the world that she occupies in what seems to be intended as the first book in a series.
On the escapist side of crime fiction - there's something nicely engaging about Kint, what with the complicated background, the inner-city lifestyle, the hats and the best mate barman - to say nothing of the gin obsession and a handy IT virtuoso on the side to assist with a spot of Google type sleuthing. Written with a light touch, and a tendency to wax lyrical, part of what could lead a reader to assume that this is the start of a series is that there is a lot of time spent setting up friendships, and characters in JINX.
Set in and around Sydney Road Brunswick, the sense of place is elaborated with a lot of hipster lifestyle elements, combined with voodoo, occult and witchcraft. Which seemed to make a lot of sense to somebody who hasn't spent much time in that area in the last decade or so. Certainly the proximity of all the suspects, and the investigators, and the way that the main roads are intersected with laneways, and littered with cafe's, pubs and hidey holes felt real to an outsider.
Relying considerably on character, the plot in JINX isn't badly served by the eccentricity of everyone, and there's a strong sense of them belonging in their place and time. It might be the over-stating of some of these lifestyle components could irk some readers, but this isn't supposed to be high tension thrills and spills, nor is it trying to be dark or considered. JINX comes across as aiming to be entertaining, and it certainly works as a bit of light-hearted escapism. Even if the idea of the inner-Melbourne, hipster lifestyle is enough to make you want to head out into a paddock and thank the universe for space, dirt bikes instead of mopeds, and the gin-enthusiasts at the local pub.
One spring morning a woman is found dead in a Brunswick alley adorned with symbols of the occult. Catherine Kint, milliner, gin enthusiast and raconteur, has no reason to be involved until her friend is under investigation. Armed with her sharp wit, a crime scene background and a barman named Boris, Catherine walks into a world of new age prophecies, curses and money. Honestly, it would drive a girl to drink.