I’ve traditionally been slack when it comes to reading Australian crime fiction, mysteries or thrillers. I am – however – trying to rectify that and thankfully we have authors like Jaye Ford who make that easier. Her latest release, Already Dead is no exception.
One year after the hit and run accident which killed her husband, former journalist Miranda Jack (Jax) is moving from Sydney to Newcastle where she and her daughter Zoe will settle with her Aunt Tilda, who also raised Jax after her parents’ death many years earlier.
Jax’s mind races as she considers her options; but she feels powerless and struggles with both fear and anger at the idea of Zoe being orphaned.
Her carjacker is an unlikely sort – dishevelled but well-dressed.
During moments of calm Jax learns that she once interviewed Brendan Walsh before he departed for Afghanistan. The former army officer served two tours and admits to having been hospitalised for PTSD. And then, during bouts of self-harm and anger, Brendan appears to be paranoid – talking about being chased, his life being at risk, being targeted by missiles and nano spiders in his brain. He directs Jax to drive towards Newcastle where his wife Kate and young son live. He loves them, he tells Jax, and he will die to protect them. In fact, he says he’s “already dead.”
Jax survives the ordeal but is left with many questions. Her friends and aunt believe Jax’s determination to find out what happened to Brendan dates back to the lack of closure Jax feels about her own husband’s death. And it may have started that way – Jax wanting to give Kate Walsh some answers – however when it becomes obvious Jax and her own family are being targeted she starts to wonder if Brendan’s story could be true?
Jaye Ford did a marvellous job with the characters in this novel. Jax, Aunt Tilda, Zoe and Kate Walsh are all solid and believable characters. Even the questionable Detective Sergeant Aiden Hawke is mostly likeable and Jax struggles with her feelings towards him.
The novel is well-paced and kept me intrigued throughout although there were a few predictable elements and I was left with a few unanswered questions. However the strength of the characters and their credibility won out in the end and I really enjoyed this read.
Already Dead, published by Random House will be released on 1 September 2014.
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.
Read my (August 2013) review of Jaye Ford’s Blood Secret.