David Whish-Wilson’s ZERO AT THE BONE captures the Windy City gangster era feel and brings it to boom town Perth at the height of mining’s golden age. Police are mob, yet few dare tread where the hardest criminals fail – for PI Frank Swann, his footprint leaves traces of the dead and imprints of a failed justice as he chases down a sinister scheme which all started when geologist, Max Henderson, allegedly committed suicide prompting his wife, Jennifer Henderson, to enlist his services.
The former detective still feels the pain and loss stemming from the events in LINE OF SIGHT, the predecessor to this novel. The strong sense of continuity is apparent with the protagonist referring back to the past events, with the present day plot (circa 1979) very much attributed to the earlier novel. For Swann, this case unearths a deeper plot and exposes the criminal element attached to the Rosa Gold stake.
Drug dealers, bad cops, bent bookies, jewel thief’s, and a widow’s questionable motive ensure ZERO AT THE BONE keeps reader’s guessing while providing plenty of criminal and good old fashion detective action.
Blue blood still runs rife within the veins of Swann with him coming across more cop than PI during the course of his investigation. I liked the balance in maintaining this persona from LINE OF SIGHT as it further built upon the Swann’s already well articulated passion for truth and justice. Yet what most impressed me about ZERO AT THE BONE was the long game of revenge which played out in surprising and shocking fashion.
ZERO AT THE BONE is a distinctly Australian yet all consuming crime fiction novel that grips the reader from page one and demands attention through to its violent conclusion.
When the smoke clears and the smell of cordite resonates in the air, the sticky blood red writing on the wall reads that David Whish-Wilson is a force to be reckoned with in crime fiction.