Rippling Red, Brigid George
The third novel in the Dusty Kent series, these books are built around investigative journalist Kent and her Irish assistant and IT expert Sean O’Kelly. IN RIPPLING RED they are in Darwin looking into the alleged suicide of Cody Bongiorno. Cody’s parents are convinced that their compassionate and kind teenager had been coerced into committing suicide, and they want Dusty to look into the verdict, something that she's more than willing to do especially given the strange death of Cody's close friend, school teacher Jerry Lucas.
Dusty's from the wise-cracking, Australian slang deploying end of the amateur investigator mob. The story is told with a sense of humour, in crisp and believable dialogue, with plenty of opportunity to bamboozle the Irish Sean with local terminology and phrases. Whilst Dusty is very much the star of the show, there is also plenty of opportunity for the reader to get to know a little about both victims, and their families, creating a slightly rare sense of connection with victims.
Readers coming to this book, in particular from outside Australia, may struggle a little with the style of banter, and the humour between Dusty and Sean. There interactions are quintessentially Australian, veering slightly to the smart-arse end of the scale, and whilst locals will probably get that there's nothing superficial or lacking in compassion in that approach, those from other locations may find it a little more difficult to connect with. Sometimes the humour has a slight sense of the gallows to it, but at no stage is there any feeling (to this Australian) that this is belittling the seriousness of the core premise - that somebody could set out to coerce a gentle young teenager to commit suicide.
The humour, and the banter is pitch-perfect for two mates working together, and the sense of place and the people / community that lives there is strong in this outing, and Dusty and Sean have a good working relationship and friendship, even though it seems like Sean has no idea what Dusty is talking about most of the time.
The title of this novel refers to the sight of ripples on the river at dusk, and there's an indigenous story that ties in about an elusive albino crocodile in the area as well, all of which combine with a solid sense of place and people to create a mystery novel, on the cosier, humorous side of the spectrum, that's nicely intriguing without being hefty lifting. You probably don't need to read the earlier books in the series, but fans of the lighter, funnier side of crime fiction might find themselves wanting to.
The third novel in this Australian murder mystery series takes the reader behind the friendly laid-back facade of Darwin, Australia’s northern capital, into a world where a crocodile roams the waterways in search of revenge and evil ripples in the hearts of humans.
The suicide of Cody Bongiorno is devastating to those left behind. But was this gentle young man manipulated into taking his own life? Is there a link between Cody’s death and the horrific crocodile attack on his comical friend, Jerry Lucas? Following on from her stunning success in solving the murder of a famous Byron Bay resident, amateur sleuth and investigative journalist Dusty Kent is once again determined to bring resolution to the families left behind in the wake of these tragedies.