St Kilda Blues by Geoffrey McGeachin
A Charlie Berlin Novel. Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780670075898
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Detectives. When the daughter of a rich and powerful property developer disappears, Charlie Berlin is hauled out of the Fraud Squad to solve the case. He connects the appearance of the body of another teenager with the disappearances of other girls over a period of years. He is convinced that there is a serial killer on the loose and that the missing teen might be in his clutches.
Award winning author McGeachin sets this novel in 1967, some years after the first Berlin novel, The Diggers Rest Hotel, which won the 2011 Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction, as did the second in the series, Blackwattle Creek, in 2013. The year 1967 provides an intriguing and engrossing background to the story. Melbourne is swinging with discos and teenagers are creeping out at night to go to seedy dances. Berlin's wife is making a name for herself as a photographer and his children are now grown-up. Charlie still suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and he is shaken by the appearance of the father of the girl who has disappeared. He is struck with the similarity between him and the German SS officer who casually murdered a young Jewish woman when he was on the road as a POW; a murder which has haunted him ever since.
Charlie Berlin is a complex and fascinating character, who is clever and intuitive and the case of the Melbourne serial killer and the murder of the young Jewish woman in World War 2 are a perfect platform to show off both his detective skills but also his vulnerability and passion and his inability to let an injustice lie untended. Readers who have followed the books will really enjoy the overall understanding that they get of his family life and his relationship with Rebecca his wife and his children, and will weep for the heartbreak that they both face.
Geoffrey McGeachin is my favourite crime writer at the moment. His mastery of a chilling narrative from the serial killer, his portrayal of family relations and his wonderful depiction of the 1960's era make this a stand-out detective story, equally as good if not better than his previous award winning novels. This is one series that I will happily follow.