Review - PINK TIDE, Jarad Henry

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

The Rubens McCauley series is one of those little gems of Australian crime fiction, of which PINK TIDE is the third book. We now find McCauley in a seachange respite from the rigours of inner city St Kilda, stationed in the small coastal town of Jutt Rock, admiring the scenery, chilling out, even thinking about taking up surfing.

Until the bashing of his nephew and the death of a local hero. About then everything starts to go badly pear-shaped. McCauley's stress related ailment management, his marriage, the family, the town and the community.

Scratch the surface of most worlds and you'll find a lot of simmering problems - and Jutt Rock's no different. Especially as the investigation proceeds and the tensions boil: between local surfers and footballers, locals and incomers, straight and gay communities.

Henry sets himself a lot of scope in PINK TIDE. He has a plot to unwind which is built around the death and bashing of two local young men. The dead man is a local boy, made good. A surfing hero, somebody that the town is proud to call their own. Somebody with a secret that, for reasons which continue to baffle me completely, is cause for over-reaction in some. The reaction is touched upon, the idiocy of it beautifully highlighted by some simple and touching passages.

Whilst the investigation proceeds, overtaken by the "Big Boys" from Melbourne, McCauley mostly goes it alone. Distracted and distressed by the discovery of his wife's affair, he was a damaged man to start out with and thrown badly off-kilter by the conglomeration of all events, he presses on for the truth, playing your classic lone hand. Taking risks, stomping over the rules, opening up each and every dark box he can find.

There's considerably more damage in PINK TIDE than I remember from the earlier books in the series. There's also, I can't help feeling, a bit more of an edge, more risks. It's raw in places, and it's dark and uncomfortable sometimes. It's also fast-paced and chaotic. Which is probably the best way to describe McCauley as well.

Year of Publication
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After a series of harrowing and life-changing cases in St Kilda—Head Shot & Blood Sunset—DS Rubens McCauley is burnt out and on the edge. Addicted to prescription medication, running away from too many years on the front line, he finds himself wandering the shores of Jutt Rock—a small town on Victoria’s south-western coastline—in search for the quiet life. And, for a while, he finds it. Every day, as the sun sets over the ocean, the brilliant wash of colour reflects on the shoreline—a Pink Tide. A picture-perfect respite; no crime, no stress.

But after McCauley’s nephew and his mate are brutally bashed while walking home from a party, McCauley realises that the Pink Tide has another meaning. With one victim dead and his nephew clinging to life in hospital, he kno ws he must act. In hunting down the attackers, his faith in the criminal justice system and in human decency itself is severely tested.

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