Daughters of Eve by Nina D Campbell opens with a bang and continues from there. I actually chuckled at the opening line and was hopeful the novel might continue in that droll cliché-ridden gumshoe style of voice (cos I miss Robert B Parker!).
It doesn’t but Campbell’s written the novel from the point of view of Detective Emilia Hart, who’s an engaging and likeable lead. She’s not perfect but not overly flawed so certainly relatable, and the perfect host for this debut outing.Daughters of Eve
by Nina D. Campbell
Published by Allen & Unwin
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
When a high-profile murder lands literally at her feet, Detective Emilia Hart sees a chance to expand her caseload beyond the endless succession of domestic violence matters she is forced to investigate. But this is no simple investigation.
Another body turns up, then another. Then more - a lot more. All men, all shot, with a similar MO. It's not until a manifesto taking credit for the crimes is published by a group calling themselves Daughters of Eve that Hart confirms a link between the victims: all of them had been perpetrators themselves. All had offended against women or children. Few had been charged with those crimes - and none convicted.
As panic sets in and chaos rules the streets, the police draw ever closer to the Daughters of Eve, but the serial killer continues to elude them. Again, Hart sees something that everyone else has missed. And what that is, she cannot believe.
Although this is (hopefully) the first in a series, Campbell gives us texture and backstory so it’s not as if Emilia, her colleagues and family have been dropped on an unsuspecting world. And in that backstory Campbell strikes a balance between giving us a sense of who Em is but without belabouring her history in a way that some series do – in which an overarching story arc featuring some past wrong simmers along in the background, sometimes overpowering the plot of the novel itself.
Campbell does a good job with the support cast here – Em’s colleagues, a potential love interest and her daughters. She also handles the topics of gender-based violence and sexual abuse and assault with tact and sensitivity. I did feel it got a bit preachy at the end – am thinking of Em’s impassioned recommendations to the Police Commissioner – but realise it’s a message Campbell wanted to deliver – that solving violence against women and children isn’t as simple as responding after the fact. (And that prevention is about more than law enforcement and the justice system.)
I enjoyed the twist Campbell throws in here and the moral or ethical debate on offer – right versus wrong and justice verses vengeance. I appreciated the nuance she also includes when one of the players – committed to the cause – realises things are out of hand… and I suspect there are lessons here for those who act with their heart rather than their head. #orsomething
This is a great debut. It ends in a way that suggests there’ll be more and I’m certainly keen to meet (almost) all of the cast and crew again.
Daughters of Eve by Nina D Campbell was published in Australia on 29 March 2022 by Allen & Unwin.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.