THE ICON MURDERS - Noel Mealey
The second book in the Syd Fielding series, THE ICON MURDERS follows on closely from the opening salvo, MURDER AND REDEMPTION.
Syd Fielding is a WA based cop who, in the first book, got himself into a lot of hot water with a drugs investigation and the death of a childhood friend. Here we're continuing with many of the themes from the debut - a childhood spent in a brutal Catholic boy's home, mateship, the illicit drugs trade, the sometime uncomfortably close ties between law and order and criminals, and love in all the wrong places.
THE ICON MURDERS does, however, go more into child abuse perpetrated by members of various religious orders, as there is a serial killer out there brutally murdering men with suspect backgrounds. And he's framing Fielding along the way. That's either subtle (murders taking place all over the country whilst Fielding happens to have been in the same area), or through actual physical evidence. Needless to say Fielding's enemies within the local force are more than happy to put their backs into a guilty finding, whilst Fielding works against the tide to prove otherwise.
The style of both of these books tends towards the laid-back, laconic, sarcastic. Probably because Fielding is, himself, a bit of a lone wolf, a man accustomed to pissing off everybody around him and someone not given to a heap of empathy or the warm fuzzies. Whilst it does come as a bit of a mild surprise that there are lusting women on his trail, it's not so unlikely when you consider that it's a rather pragmatic pursuit, and really more about alliances. Which is also part of the point of the whole book - the shifting alliances and loyalties that spring up as a result of some very inconvenient, and frequently decidedly stroppy roosters coming home to roost.
THE ICON MURDERS, is not, however, without problems. The more I think about it, the more I suspect you're going to have to read the first book. There's a lot of backtracking, a lot of past connections, and a lot of interactions between characters that may not make sense without it. Having said that, even though I had read it, I really struggled sometimes to get everything straight - there's been a lot of books between then and now. Unfortunately it did contribute to a feeling of possible points being missed, which rapidly led to a tendency to lose the plot. And whilst the basic premise of the book isn't overly complex, the number of characters with history with Fielding did mean that it all got a tad muddled at times.
Given that it's "yet another serial killer book" and the circumstances of the killings are clearly telegraphing another nutter on the prowl, the connections backwards are really spotlights strafing the night sky. It's not that hard to take an educated guess at the why's of the killings, and from there narrow the suspect list down to a very neat little group which is fed by clues and details along the way. But these books don't always have to be about who. The why is often as important, and despite the problems, if it casts a bit of light into some very dark corners of our recent history, then that's not a bad thing.
A spate of vicious, brutal murders around Australia has police puzzled, until Detective Syd Fielding, now head of a national drug prevention squad, finds the link that draws them together. The problem is, the link appears to be him.
Syd′s always been a loose cannon, with a very personal sense of justice and this time even his closest friends and allies cannot be sure of his innocence. Could he be hunting down and killing his childhood abusers, or is he being framed? And by whom?
As the evidence mounts against him, Syd is lured into a dangerous web of drugs, sex and politics as he fights to clear his name.