Book review: Foul Play by Fiona McIntosh

Sunday, January 14, 2024 Permalink

It has to be said that soccer (aka football) fans are gonna love Foul Play by Fiona McIntosh. I’m very much enjoying this series headed up by the charismatic Jack Hawksworth, appreciating that, even though it’s set in England, McIntosh imbues Aussie flavour into each book in the series. Here via an Aussie-raised soccer player doing great things in his fictional UK club, supported by the club’s Australian (mining magnate) owner.

Book review: Foul Play by Fiona McIntoshFoul Play
by Fiona McIntosh
Series: DCI Jack Hawksworth #5
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
on 09/01/2024
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1761048015
Pages: 403

Superstar footballer Luca Bruni is being blackmailed for a night of lust he swears he didn’t participate in...except the ransom photo denies that.

A media darling on and off the field, he has powerful charisma, a perfect home life he’ll do anything to protect, and more money than he knows what to do with. He’s determined to defy the extortion racket. When Detective Superintendent Jack Hawksworth learns that the cunning mastermind behind this crime has already swindled a dozen of the world’s most highly prized male athletes, he is instructed to keep the situation from escalating and prevent a media frenzy.

Intrigued by the creativity of the crime and the shockwaves it is creating through the global sporting fraternity, Jack begins a journey into a case that has tentacles far more wide-reaching that he ever imagined – and far more deadly.

Given this book centres around Luca, McIntosh includes a lot of references to soccer. There’s detail about matches, training and all sorts of behind-the-scenes stuff that I found interesting (despite not being into the game itself!).

Of course at the fore there’s also Jack and regular offsider Kate, the former called in to investigate what’s believed to be the latest attempt to blackmail wealthy sportsmen. They find however that Luca’s case varies a little from the other victims who have all paid-up to make the problem go away.

I really liked Luca and his wife Ally. I appreciated that McIntosh dips into, but moves away from cliches and stereotypes. Ally is a former soapie actress and Luca a rising star getting paid like $1m/month AND they’re both only 22 years old, but thoroughly grounded so deserve their combined reputation which Luca, his manager and the club’s owner are all keen to protect.

I always comment in my reviews of this series that I also like that McIntosh shies away from the stereotypical bombastic guv’nor type police bosses and Jack and his boss get along well, as does Jack with his colleagues.

Sportsmen and women, sport in general and the attention it attracts is always a topical subject so this is a riveting read on many levels. I liked that McIntosh complicates things further here by introducing a few layers to the investigation, with multiple players (and I mean the non-sporting kind). She takes the usual police procedural up a few notches (hence the 4.5 stars), though I would (perhaps) have liked a few other suspects to have been introduced to muddy the limited pool a little.

Happily there’s some romance for Jack here, but given he’s not had much luck on that front (he needs a talisman!) I’m wondering where that might go.

I’m really enjoying this series and only disappointed it’ll be an entire year until Jack’s next outing.

Foul Play by Fiona McIntosh was published in Australia by Penguin Books and now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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