Review: THRILL CITY by Leigh Redhead

Thrill CityWho knew a bunch of writers, a secret, and copious amounts of alcohol could lead to murder? In THRILL CITY this is exactly what recently deregistered PI Simone Kirsch finds herself up against. THRILL CITY as the name implies leads one to think of an almost Sin City-like setting, a metropolis where crime is commonplace, where the sewer dwellers scuttle across the sodden streets and the law is, as if not more, unlawful than their criminal opposites. However, what transpires in Redhead’s fourth Simone Kirsch novel is far from the underworld inspired seedy escapades of the previous instalments. THRILL CITY reads more like popular fiction with a little bit of traditional Redhead thrown in to keep series and hardboiled/noir fans semi-satisfied.

Despite a ghoulish murder and  hazy link to a bikie gang, THRILL CITY is mostly a story of Simone Kirsch and her trials and lack of tribulations that affect her personal and professional life. Her relationships with Sean and Alex are paramount to proceedings, as is best friend and sometimes sidekick, Chloe’s impending child birth. The heavy character centric focus had a tendency to stray away from the plot and action – while not necessarily a bad thing, I was hoping for more of CHERRY PIE – a high octane story full of tension, twists, and hardboiled action.

The unassuming group of suspects was a deviation from the format which made PEEPSHOW, RUBDOWN, and CHERRY PIE so enjoyable. Deriving a murder mystery from blue collars linked by a book tour was always going to wash away the grime and lighten the darker mode of storytelling. Luckily there are moments of crime that put this book back on the path to darker fiction – if only to dip a toe or two. That said, THRILL CITY is crime fiction, more mainstream than I would’ve liked and a tad longer and padded than necessary but still a must for any fan of the series.