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Dark days out west

Herald Sun (Australia)
September 2, 2017
Section: Lifestyle
Dark days out west

THE world of fiction is awash with female detectives. If you peruse the shelves of any Fitzroy bookstore, you would assume that half the women in the world are private detectives, lurking in dark alleys in trim business suits, snub-nosed revolvers packed in shoulder holsters. The novels of J.M. Green (above) are something else, however. Her heroine Stella Hardy is not a detective, but a social worker, given the grim and grimy task of sorting through the drug-addled western suburbs of Melbourne, hoping to do good in her own small way. She inevitably gets dragged into the world of crime through her police connections. And she struggles with her personal relationships. Green’s heroine is sharp and sassy and as hard-boiled as a 10-minute egg. In this latest novel, Stella gets mixed up with a bikie gang and some street kids up to no good. She has a dippy artist boyfriend who employs a sexy nude model, her boss is having a crisis, a mysterious fake social worker enters the scene. There is more than enough intrigue to keep the pages turning and enough classy dialogue to raise a wry smile. Don’t expect uplifting and joyful. Expect something as dark as Footscray in a midnight blackout.

Verdict: Bleak but chic