Book review: Kingdom of the Strong by Tony Cavanaugh

Friday, July 31, 2015 Permalink

I think of myself as well-read. Not in the manner of someone who takes in Tolstoy and the like, but rather in the manner of someone who devours books in their favoured genres. So it comes as a surprise when I come across an established author who I’ve not previously…. errr… come across.

Australian Tony Cavanaugh is one such author. I seriously cannot believe I’ve not read any of his previous work because having picked up his latest release (and yes, again I’m reading something midway through a series), I LOVED it.

The blurb

Darian Richards is an ex-cop, a good one. He did whatever it took to solve a crime and stop the bad guy. Whatever it took! But after sixteen years as the head of Victoria’s Homicide Squad, he’d had enough of promising victims’ families he’d find the answers they needed. He had to walk away to save his sanity.

Now Police Commissioner Copeland Walsh has tracked Darian down. He needs him to help clear an old case. The death of Isobel Vine. The coroner gave an open finding. An open finding that never cleared the cloud of doubt that hovered over four young cops who were present the night Isobel died.

Twenty-five years later, one of those young cops is next in line to become police commissioner, so Copeland Walsh needs the case closed once and for all. In his mind there is only one man for the job. One man who would be completely independent. One man who has never bowed to political or police pressure. One man who knows how to get the job done – Darian Richards.

Darian is going back to stir a hornet’s nest. But once Darian is on a case he won’t back off tracking down evil, no matter who he has to take down.

My addition: With mobsters, underage girls, cocaine and potentially-bent coppers at play Darian also calls on his favourite Queensland police officer to assist.

kingdom of the strong

My thoughts

As this was my first outing with Darian I didn’t have as much of a chance to get to know him as those familiar with the series but I loved what I saw. He came across as authentic, likeable and very pragmatic. As was (fellow Queenslander) Senior Constable Maria Chastain. I don’t know their history and how they originally came to be working together but the pairing is great.

We quickly learn that Darian walked away from the job because he was jaded and it’s interesting that he describes Melbourne via the crimes which took place in its streets. It had me pondering a little on some of the past work I’ve done which has tainted or coloured the world around me.

The plot itself was great; it kept a good pace and I wasn’t distracted by any plot holes or over-the-top antics. I was initially slightly distracted by the changes in point-of-view. Readers aren’t told we’re switching heads, but it soon becomes obvious when we’re no longer in Darian’s mind. Once I got used to this it was fine and I liked the quirky naming of chapters.

I note Cavanaugh’s also a screenwriter and producer and this was evident in his gritty scene setting. I’m not even vaguely particularly visual but even I was ‘there’.

Regular readers of my blog and my reviews won’t be surprised to know that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the conclusion, but not because I didn’t believe whodunnit or thought it didn’t add up. It just felt a bit left field and I would normally have expected more breadcrumbs earlier. Of course if that had been the case I’d be bitching because I guessed the murderer way too early. #hardtoplease (Is that why I’m single I wonder?!)

The verdict

With fabulous characters and a very real and believable plot I’m very impressed by the fourth in this series by Cavanaugh and keen to get my hands on more. (As an aside and given my usual whining about series and sequels, this didn’t overshare the outcome of previous novels in the series so I’m looking forward to reading them spoiler-free!)

Kingdom of the Strong by Tony Cavanaugh, published in Australia by Hachette, was released on 28 July 2015.

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


  • Stormi D Johnson
    July 31, 2015

    Sounds great, but I must go and grab book one as I get kind of OCD about series reading and doing it in

    • Debbish
      July 31, 2015

      I know what you mean Stormi (as I’ve struggled in the past!) but it was fine that I hadn’t read any of his previous novels – which was good.

  • Book Muster Down Under
    August 14, 2015

    I also like to think of myself as being “well-read” but haven’t read any of his yet – although this one is on my TBR for review!

    • Debbish
      August 14, 2015

      It’s funny as the female police officer (Maria) is feeling bored sitting on the outskirts of Brisbane near roadworks (punishment by a prick of a boss) and I just did the drive in and out of Brisbane and was reminded of the book when I saw police cars at either end of the roadworks and a solitary police officer sitting in there… biding time!

  • Tony Cavanaugh
    October 10, 2015

    Thanks for that review. Very kind.
    Of the four books I’ve written I’m really happy with this one. To prepare I re-read all of John le Carre’s work. The other books are really different.
    My editor had issues with me and point of view but (and I guess with my scriptwriting background) it didn’t seem an issue. And then I read a great article by Martin Amis on this very subject and how it was in vogue years ago but not so much now. And I felt kinda emboldened.

  • saintronald2010
    March 11, 2016

    Hello, loved the book…………..but, I too guessed the killer way too early
    (I have no idea why. Maybe because I was looking for the least-expected character) and the ending, to me, was also a bit flat. But (again), I think it was a wonderful read. Fast-paced, nothing too technical and excitement on every page.
    This is the only Darian Richards book I have read and I am definitely looking forward to the previous and further adventures of him.
    Great stuff………reminded me a bit of Lee Child/Jack Reacher without the fights.

    • Debbish
      March 13, 2016

      Oh yes… I must admit I kind skim fight scenes and the like!

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