Review: THE MISSING, PD Martin

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 205 KB
  • Print Length: 38 pages
  • Publisher: Murderati Ink (March 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007H3JBRQ

Synopsis (Amazon)

The Missing is two Sophie Anderson short stories – one set before book 1
in the series (Body Count) and one set after Body Count.

Story
1: Sophie Anderson is working in Victoria Police’s homicide department
when her boss assigns her to a local kidnapping case. Her boss’s deal is
simple: ‘Find my friend’s ten-year-old daughter and I’ll send you on
the FBI course you’ve been nagging me about.’ But Sophie doesn’t need
incentive to rescue a young girl. She throws herself into the case,
racing against the clock to bring the girl home…only too aware of what
the perpetrator might be doing to her.

Story 2: Sophie Anderson
is still a relative newcomer to the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit when
her profiling skills are called on for a kidnapping case in DC.
Presidential candidate Senator Keen’s daughter is missing and Sophie’s
mission is simple: find her and keep it quiet. But as Sophie
investigates the senator and the daughter who’s kept out of the public
eye, she discovers more than a straight case of kidnapping.

My take

A quick read, this one, just 38 pages, two short stories, both very polished.

Story 1 is an early Sophie Anderson, set in Melbourne before she has managed to persuade Victoria Police to send her to the FBI for training. Interesting to see how far her character has developed in later stories.

An interesting feature of the second story, published in the Australian Women’s Weekly in 2006, is the two alternative endings. I preferred the first ending, which didn’t have political overtones, myself.

What binds the two stories together is that both are about missing daughters, one in Melbourne, one in Washington DC. Comparing the two, and Sophie’s profiling techniques, gives an excellent idea of how her skills have developed.

So if you have a Kindle, and 99 cents to spare, here’s a quick taste of PD Martin, one of Australia’s accomplished female crime fiction writers.

My rating: 4.6

Other reviews of PD Martin titles

FAN MAIL

THE KILLING HANDS

A difficult reader’s choice

As I mentioned back in May I am a member of  Sisters in Crime Australia and am therefore eligible to vote in the Reader’s Choice category in this year’s Davitt Awards. Never one to take voting duties lightly I was a little overwhelmed by the number of eligible titles. At that time I had read only 6 and a half of the eligible adult fiction titles so how could I possibly make an informed vote? Given I had no chance of reading all the eligible titles in the time available I decided not to fret too much, though did resolve to get my hands on as many of the books in the adult fiction category as I could given the limitations of book-buying budgets and waking hours in which to read.

I have now read 12 of the 25 eligible adult fiction books and to be honest almost all of them would be deserving winners. I have chosen my favourite (by the merest of margins) but I really wouldn’t mind if any of the others that I’ve liked was to win instead. However, my vote has gone to

DEATH MASK by Kathryn Fox: Although I thought the start a bit slow this book has one of the most creative storylines I’ve encountered in ages, focusing on sexual assaults committed by sporting stars. As with all the very best crime fiction it is about much more than the crimes it depicts; examining the psychology of team sports from all angles in a thought-provoking way that is far-removed from how we normally the subject addressed in the media. I thought it topical, non-sensationalist and utterly compelling.

Here are the others I’ve read (in alphabetical order):
  • A FEW RIGHT THINKING MEN by Sulari Gentill: A delightful historical mystery set against a fascinating backdrop of social and political turmoil in Australia in the 1930’s. A young man of a wealthy background gets help from his left-wing friends to investigate the murder of his uncle and the book has a great setting, warm-lively characters and the historical setting is interesting (my rating 3.5)
  • COLD JUSTICE by Katherine Howell: The re-opening of the investigation into the death of a teenager 19-years earlier explores the idea of people’s pasts and how they might feel differently about events they witnessed or took part in with the benefit of age and distance. It is brilliantly plotted and full of compelling characters and is the best (to date) of a terrific series (my rating 4.5)
  • DEAD MAN’S CHEST by Kerry Greenwood An intelligent cosy mystery set in 1920’s Australia this book sees private detective Phryne Fisher and her household head to the seaside for a rest. Of course they encounter some mysteries to solve including the bizarre bandit threatening the long-haired ladies of Queenscliff and the sudden disappearance of a servant couple. It’s terrific to see  the latest book in a long running series receive the attention to detail and quality story telling that the first novels received (my rating 3.5)
  • KISS OF DEATH by P.D. Martin The fifth book in this series sees ex-pat Australian FBI Profiler Sophie Anderson helping Los Angeles police with an investigation into a murder that appears to have ritualistic elements that could be associated with a religious cult. This evidence, plus one of the psychic visions that Sophie sometimes has, leads her to look into the world of self-proclaimed vampires. I liked the procedural and investigative aspects of this book but did find the supernatural elements a bit over the top (my rating 3)
  • LET THE DEAD LIE by Malla Nunn: The second book of Nunn’s set in 1950’s South Africa follows the story of Emmanuel Cooper who, under the country’s increasingly draconian apartheid laws has recently been classified non-white and so is unable to work officially for the police anymore. However while undertaking some unofficial surveillance work for his old boss he finds a young boy’s body and is compelled to investigate the case. What I enjoyed most about this book is its depiction of the impact of his changed situation on Emmanuel Cooper which felt very realistic in addition to being heart-breaking (my rating 4)
  • MATTER OF TRUST by Sydney Bauer: Boston-based lawyer David Cavanagh goes home to New Jersey to defend an old friend who is accused of murder. The novel is decently paced but has a bit too much of a tv-script sensibility for me to find 100% engaging. I’d have liked a little more depth to the characters and their motivations (my rating 2.5)
  • NAKED CRUELTY by Colleen McCullough: This is the only one that I’ve read that I would be disappointed to see win as I just don’t think it’s a great example of the crime writing craft. Set in the US in 1969 and involving the investigation of numerous crimes including a series of brutal rapes I found it historically anachronistic and pretentious (my rating 2)
  • THE HALF-CHILD by Angela Savage: (my rating 4): In the mid-90’s Jayne Keeney is an Aussie living in Thailand and working as a private detective. She is asked to investigate the apparent suicide of a young Australian volunteer some months earlier and uncovers several nasty villains in the process. It’s a terrific novel with a great sense of its setting and a very thoughtful and nuanced plot (my rating 4)
  • THE OLD SCHOOL by P.M. Newton: The first (of what I hope is many) book to feature Detective Constable Nhu ‘Ned’ Kelly, the book is set in 1992 in western Sydney and involves an investigation into some bones found at a building site. Newton does many things well but, for me, it’s the time and place captured to perfection that I will long remember in this tale that tackles such big issues as the search for identity, the treatment of Australia’s indigenous people and the nature of police corruption. (my rating 4)
  • WATCH THE WORLD BURN by Leah Giarratano: A woman dies from apparent spontaneous combustion at an up scale Sydney restaurant and then other odd, possibly related, events start happening around the city. Detective Jill Jackson is meant to be studying for her Masters Degree but is drawn into the investigation for personal reasons. As always I loved the way Giarratano draws her characters in a very believable and thoughtful way and the story is one that takes several unexpected turns. (my rating 4)
  • VIOLENT EXPOSURE by Katherine Howell: Paramedics are called to a domestic disturbance at the suburban home of Suzanne and Connor Crawford one night only to have the couple explain the incident away as nothing more than a disagreement. The next evening Police and paramedics are again called to the address only this time Suzanne Crawford is dead and her husband is missing. This is a fast-paced book with credible, recognisable characters and a superbly complex plot. (my rating 4.5)
Davitt awards in the categories of best adult crime novel, best young fiction crime book and best true crime book by Australian women writers are chosen by a judging panel. The Reader’s Choice award, voted by members of Sisters in Crime, can go to any of the titles eligible for one of these three categories. All the award winners will be announced in October. For a full list of the eligible titles in all the categories you can see my earlier post on the awards.

As for which book will actually win the award I’ve no idea. I’m notoriously bad at predicting such things and am normally well out of step with the majority, whoever and wherever they may be. All I can say is good luck to all, including those I’ve not had a chance to read yet, and I feel very fortunate as a reader to have been presented with such a terrific range of crime writing by Australian women for my enjoyment and education in just one year!

Review: KISS OF DEATH by P D Martin

The fifth book in PD Martin’s series takes place over the course of only three days and opens with Los Angeles based FBI profiler Sophie Anderson being called in on a case involving the death of a young woman in a state park. Normally Sophie’s team would not be called in so early on in an investigation but the woman’s body has two puncture wounds on the neck and appears to have been drained of blood so the lead detective on the case engages the FBI to cover her bases. They soon learn that the woman, an acting student called Sherry Taylor, had recently become interested in the local vampire sub culture which, given the nature of her death, opens up an avenue of investigation that takes the team into a possible cult-like group in the midst of the city. The detectives are also interested in the traditional lines of enquiry, such as an ex-boyfriend or a possibly jealous best friend, but Sophie has had one of her psychic visions that lead her to believe it is the vampire angle that will ultimately uncover Sherry’s killer.

I have an amateur interest in the psychology behind religious cults (I recently posted about this at my other blog) and so was pleasantly surprised that this book tackled the subject (it’s been sitting on my TBR shelves for quite some time and I’m ashamed to say I had forgotten what it was about). I really liked the way the book delved into the subject of cults/new religious movements without being sensationalist or judgemental and I learned a little more about how such cults and their leaders work thanks to Martin’s extensive research (which she has blogged about here and here). In the story, some lines of enquiry lead to a group of vampires (who don’t bear much resemblance to those in Twilight or Buffy) who are led by a charismatic and wealthy vampire who even manages to exert a strange kind of influence over Sophie. She has to work hard to both maintain her professional distance while she tries to determine if they are just an odd social grouping with a sexy leader or something more sinister. I liked the way Martin depicted the tension between the more traditional investigation and the less rational one; it felt realistic to me.

Sophie occasionally has visions which are generally from a victim’s point of view which can help her with her cases although the bulk of her success still comes from old-fashioned policing. However the ‘woo woo’ element was probably a bit more than I like in this particular outing. Martin explored the possible psychic connection between Sophie and some of the self-confessed vampires she met and, for me, this went a bit over the top towards the end. It still didn’t take over the book by any stretch of the imagination but I will admit to having a pretty low tolerance for paranormal activity (pun intended).

The book has a good mixture of investigative procedure and personal life. Sophie’s very understanding long-distance boyfriend makes an appearance and the pair once again struggle to have any kind of time together with Sophie working all the time (are FBI profilers really never off call?). Still he does get to see her in a provocative outfit she wears for an evening spent undercover as a vampire wannabe (and remove the outfit later) so his trip to LA is not entirely wasted.  I did find the ending a little more predictable than I normally do with Martin’s books but there was still plenty of suspense as there were many ways things could have gone.

While this is not quite my favourite Sophie Anderson novel (that honour goes to The Murderers’ Club) it is still a welcome addition to the series and a very entertaining read. I’m sure if you’re even slightly more open to paranormal ideas than I am you’ll enjoy it even more than I did and if you’re not there is still much to enjoy. I’m certainly keen to tackle the latest instalment of the series (Coming Home) which was produced via an interesting experiment in which Martin’s readers were able to influence the direction of the story by voting on options at key points along the way.


My rating: 3/5 stars
Publisher: Pan MacMillan [2010]
ISBN: 9781405038867
Length: 339 pages
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: I bought it


PD Martin, otherwise known as Phillipa was featured in the series of author interviews we ran during Aussie Authors month earlier this year and indicated that her next book is a departure from this series. I’m always intrigued by how authors make the choice to go with something different, though why shouldn’t they as we readers get to read more than one series or type of book 🙂

My reviews of earlier books in the series The Killing Hands (#4), Fan Mail (#3), The Murderers’ Club (#2)

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #6: Phillipa (PD) Martin

This is #6 in our new feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime. Victorian writer Phillipa (PD) Martin has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

And so to Phillipa’s responses…

 I often wonder…about how things were first invented, discovered or tried. Even the simple stuff, like the first time someone mixed ground wheat, water and yeast to make bread or the first time a dried up piece of corn popped! And who first made raspberry and white chocolate muffins?

Friends would describe me as…stubborn, self-motivated and kind.

I will never…mmm…this one had me stumped. Never say never, right. Although I’m pretty sure I’ll never eat dog pooh. Or any pooh for that matter.

My greatest fear is…something happening to my family, especially my daughter.

My worst job was…telemarketing for a matchmaking agency – I kid you not!

I¹m in dire need oftime and sleep. And maybe a massage.

My childhood waslike most people’s – full of good and bad moments. Times of joy and love and heartbreak and insecurity.

I wish I hada lovely modern house with a big backyard and a dishwasher (a ‘real’ dishwasher, not the one called Phillipa).

I wish I hadn’tchanged schools for the last two years of my schooling. But that’s a long story.

The thing I hate most about being a writer isthe poor pay!

The last book I read wasJodi Piccoult, My Sister’s Keeper (I’m only about 10 years behind the times)

The next book I’ll write isThe Gift. A women’s fiction about three childhood friends, each experiencing their own heartbreaks.

Being an Australian author meansbeing proud to be Aussie but also having to reach out to the global markets to make a living.

PD Martin – Phillipa Deanne Martin – is the author of five novels and one e-novella featuring Aussie FBI profiler Sophie Anderson. Her books are currently available in 13 countries and have received excellent reviews. Her books, in order, are: Body Count, The Murderers’ Club, Fan Mail, The Killing Hands, Kiss of Death and Coming Home ($2.99 on Amazon). You can find out more about her at www.pdmartin.com.au and view two book trailers at www.youtube.com/pdmartinauthor.

Find Phillipa at

  • Williamstown Literary Festival:  Saturday 30 April, 4pm, and the session is… The gory details of deadly fiction with crime writers PD Martin, Robert Gott and Carmel Shute of Sisters in Crime.
  • Bayside Literary Festival:  Tuesday 24 May at 7.30pm I’ll be at the Bayside Literary Festival at the Brighton Savoy

Reviews of Phillipa’s books on Fair Dinkum Crime
FAN MAIL – reviewed by Kerrie
THE KILLING HANDS -reviewed by Bernadette
THE KILLING HANDS – reviewed by Kerrie

The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen has been launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month which is a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focused on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

FAN MAIL, PD Martin

Title: FAN MAIL
Author: PD Martin
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
This Edition first published: February 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4050-3826-3
Classification: crime fiction/thriller
Price: $32.95 (Aust. Dollars)
389 pages
Author website: http://www.pdmartin.com.au

Sophie Anderson is a Melbourne profiler who featured in two earlier titles BODY COUNT and THE MURDERER’S CLUB. What makes Sophie stand out from the rest is her sixth sense which gives her visions, particularly images, related to the cases she is working on. Sometimes she sees events from the point of view of the perpetrator, sometimes from that of the victim. The visions are usually accompanied by dizziness, and can sometimes be triggered intentionally, but more often than not occur without warning. Sophie has been working for the FBI at Quantico and is now moving to the American West Coast so that she can get more “in the field” work. Only one person that Sophie has worked with knows of her visions. It is not something she generally wants her colleagues to be aware of.

She thinks her “visions” may come more reliably, or that she will be able to channel her abilities, if she can visit the scene of the crime. Her current role in the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico is very desk bound, hence the transfer to the FBI agency in Los Angeles.

On her last day at Quantico Sophie is asked to conduct a tour for a novelist who writes rather gruesome crime novels with detailed crime scenes, but now the novelist has been found murdered – by someone who has copied the method from her latest novel. So begins Sophie’s first case with Los Angeles FBI Agency. She quickly finds out that there has been an earlier case – someone is killing crime fiction writers and using their own scenarios as a blueprint.

FAN MAIL takes up where THE MURDERERS’ CLUB, the previous title in this series, left off. There is no doubt in my mind that, despite back-fill given by the author, the reader is in a better position to appreciate the continuity by having read the earlier title. Make no mistake though, the reader can treat FAN MAIL as a stand-alone, but I think Martin is on dangerous ground here if she stretches the threads in the series too far. She will need to decide whether, in future books, she expects readers to have read previous titles in the series, or just how important the back-fill is to the understanding of the current action.

I feel that PD Martin has come a long way in a short time in her skill as a writer. She is obviously increasing her understanding of the field with considerable research, and at the same time her control of the threads of the stories is very masterful. I thoroughly enjoyed FAN MAIL and look forward to the next in the series.

PD Martin lives in Melbourne, Australia and developed a passion for crime fiction and story telling at an early age. This interest was backed up with formal education through a Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences (with majors in psychology and criminology) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Writing (creative writing).

http://www.pdmartin.com.au

My rating: 5.0

THE KILLING HANDS, PD Martin

Pan Macmillan Australia, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4050-3902-4, 393 pages

Australian profiler Sophie Anderson is working with the FBI in Los Angeles. A male body has been found with the throat ripped out. Fingerprints identify this person as a member of the Yakuza who has not been seen for 15 years, and had been assumed dead. Sophie’s investigation of the cause of death reveals that the victim was probably killed by a combination of kung fu strikes. In addition the leader of the FBI team investigating Yakuza activity believes he has a mole in his team. Further investigation puts Sophie and a colleague into mortal danger as the Yakuza becomes aware, through the mole, of their investigation.

#4 in the highly successsful Sophie Anderson series, THE KILLING HANDS could operate quite well as a stand alone. The author has included a little less backstory than we saw in previous novels, and yet just enough to pique the reader’s interest in earlier books in the series. For Australian readers there is the added interest of Sophie’s Australian nationality. Her parents Jean and Bob fly to LA from Melbourne to be at their daughter’s bedside when she is hospitalised. Martin continues also to explore Sophie’s paranormal powers, her ability to conjure visions that help her reconstruct what has happened to a victim. Sophie appears to have more control of these than in earlier books, but her colleagues are mainly unaware of them. Another thread of continuity, Darren Carter makes another appearance in this book, as does “American Psycho”, a stalker who casts an occasional shadow across Sophie’s life.

My rating 4.6

PD Martin is an Australian author living in Melbourne. In 2008 I reviewed FAN MAIL,  and commented on the two earlier books in the series: BODY COUNT and THE MURDERER’S CLUB.
There is no doubt that PD Martin is a very accomplished writer.

#5 KISS OF DEATH is already available in Australia and will be available in the US in August 2010.
#6 in the series, COMING HOME, is being written as an e-book (with 12 chapters) at the astonishing rate of a chapter a week. Readers are able to vote on the path that the novel will take from one week to the next. 8 chapters can be read so far online.
PD Martin says the resultant chapters are draft only, and will be “polished” prior to final publication. Martin talks about her writing process on her blog.

Other Reviews to Check

  • Reactions to Reading: “The Killing Hands is another credible and engaging outing in the series and I’m looking forward to catching up with Sophie again soon.”
  • Sunnie’s Book Blog:”P.D. Martin has become one of my favourite Australian crime fiction writers and THE KILLING HANDS has done nothing to change my opinion.”

The Killing Hands, P D Martin

The Killing Hands is the fourth book to feature FBI profiler Sophie Anderson. She’s called in to work up a profile of the killer of an unidentified body who appears to have had his throat ripped out. Even before he’s identified the body is linked to Asian organised crime in Los Angeles which requires Sophie to work with a myriad of gang-related government agencies who form a task force. Eventually Sophie identifies that the man, and possibly other victims as well, might have been killed using a specialist form of martial arts training and the task force focus their attention on the Yakuza both in LA, Japan and China.

One of the things that I like most about this series is that there’s always a change in Sophie’s work environment so it doesn’t ever feel stale. Here her work with gangs is a completely new arena for Sophie and, aside from Sophie’s parents and her potential love interest, all the characters are new and interesting to meet. Sophie herself continues to grow and is harnessing her unique psychic ability with greater skill in this book. If you’re like me and a little skeptical of ‘woo woo’ in your books don’t let that last sentence turn you off because it’s a relatively minor element of the plot and it really is handled very intelligently.
The plot of this one builds well towards the end though I have to admit I found some of the earlier parts a little hard going. Martin does meticulous research and incorporated this well into the book in terms of providing enough information on relatively obscure topics like martial arts moves and organised crime but it did lead to a little slower pace than usual at the beginning. It probably doesn’t help that I have a personal bias against books where organised crime features heavily (I simply can’t get terribly interested when criminals start killing each other but given the ratings of TV shows like Underbelly and The Sopranos I realise I’m in the minority). However there were enough other threads including protecting an undercover agent, the exposing of a dangerous leak from the task force and more emphasis than usual on Sophie’s private life to maintain my interest.
I enjoy this series as it does seem to occupy a fairly unique slot in the genre. It is a procedural of course but having Sophie move around so much allows new characters and completely different types of cases to be featured which keeps the books fresher than many series of this type. And Sophie herself is not your run-of-the-mill investigator either, being able to harness a special gift over and above her more traditional skills. The Killing Hands is another credible and engaging outing in the series and I’m looking forward to catching up with Sophie again soon.
My rating 4/5
Publisher: Pan MacMillan [2009]; ISBN: 978-1-4050-3902-4 Length: 392 pages;