AN EASEFUL DEATH - Felicity Young
DS Stevie Hooper, recently seconded to the Serious Crime Squad in Perth, is working with her old friend DI Monty McGuire. When the naked, hairless body of a young woman is found, poised carefully outside a Bank in the main part of the city, sprayed totally with bronze paint there not only does not seem to be any reason for the murder, there are also no clues on the surveillance cameras because the murderer seems to have known enough to cover them, firstly when the body was placed there, and secondly when the props used to keep her in the bizarre pose as rigor-mortis set in are removed. The woman's face is an expressionless mask, and the words Easeful Death are printed down the length of her right thigh in black marker pen.
Is this killing connected with the last serial killer in Perth – the Kings Park killer? A suspect for those murders was never really confirmed as he died in a car crash before the police completed their investigations. McGuire's predecessor as head of SCS was forced out of the police under a cloud of suspicion over that investigation and Monty now can't decide if their recent killer is new or if the faulty investigation didn't even id the right suspect.
Stevie is dealing with problems of her own, a full-on, very intense investigation; the difficulties of juggling single motherhood and the time required on a job like this; a threatening and menacing ex-partner; and disturbing feelings for the interstate Profiler called in to help the SCS team.
Then a second victim is found, and the team discover that the paint was purchased in bronze, silver and gold. Can the SCS team stop these murders before there are two more victims?
AN EASEFUL DEATH includes a hefty concentration on Stevie Hooper, her problems with balancing her home life and her job, the difficulties with her ex-partner and her feelings for the enigmatic profiler called into the investigation. In the book blurb she's referred to as young and hard-edged – but to be honest, to this reader there was very little indication of any hard-edges. There's a back story with the ex-partner that is obviously intended to give her character some adversity that she is dealing with, and as a result of that she's got a tendency to be a little bit prickly with fellow team members. There's also a fairly standard romance element.
The plot lines are competently delivered, but predictable. There's some personal elements in Stevie's life that were bordering on the unbelievable and possibly these affected perceptions of the book. Whilst AN EASEFUL DEATH didn't really appeal to this reader, it undoubtedly will find an eager audience in readers who are looking for something on the romantic, less confrontational side of crime fiction.
The victims are young, beautiful women, their bodies left posed like mannequins in public places. The first is painted bronze, the next silver... who is the gold for? And what is the significance of the words Easeful Death, from a poem by Keats, that appear hand painted on the bodies of the victims?
Detective Sergeant Stevie Hooper, young, hard-edged and newly seconded to the Serious Crime Squad in Perth, is getting disturbing flashbacks as the Poser case unfolds. It's a race to get inside the mind of the killer and something is not quite right about James De Vakey, the expert criminal profiler who is flown in to help on the case.
Trying to sort out her own tangled life, and looking out for her boss Monty who is the target of a web of police corruption, Stevie finds the carefully drawn line between professional and personal increasingly blurred till she doesn't know who can be trusted.