By Candice Fox

Kensington | 2015 | 342 pages | $15.00

Reviewed by Michael Carey

Candice Fox

When you look at a sequel, a reader must look at whether the book can stand on its own. Candice Fox’s new novel, Eden, manages not only to stand but shines in the shadow of its prequel, Hades, winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Novel.

Hades introduces us to Frank Bennett and his partner, Eden Archer. The events that bring them into Eden are touched on throughout the book giving enough info to catch us up on the dynamic and curious relationship Frank and Eden share, explaining how a pompous detective could be so close with Australia’s own Dexter, the homicidal Eden.

Eden begins with Frank near rock bottom. He’s drinking too much with little regard for getting his life back together after losing someone close to him. Eden needs her partner to get his act together because she desires to get back into action, and a case is coming down the pipe that has Frank and Eden’s names on it. Three girls are missing, the police believe they may be connected, and the partners are the premiere serial murder investigators.

As part of Frank’s recovery from depression, Eden sets him working for her father, the ex-crime lord and disposer of bodies, Hades. Frank reluctantly takes work from the known villain, but he feels trapped in the web of the murderous family. Frank agrees to investigate a stalker and finds himself diving into the past, a time when Hades’ word was law. Meanwhile Eden is undercover on a farm full of degenerates. Can Frank solve Hades’ problem before the old man takes matters into his own hands? Can Eden sniff out the killer? Or will she find herself the next victim?

It seems Fox has mastered the lovable-bad guy. Eden is a murderer you can’t help but cheer for. She is cold, impersonal, and sharp, but the author succeeds in endearing her to the reader, more so than the main character, Det. Bennett. In fact, Eden contained so much back-story for Hades I found myself more a fan of the crime-lord than our hero.

Not knowing how the first book went exactly, I had the thought that this book should have been called Hades and (taking hints from the ending) the next should be called Eden. I find Fox to be a gifted writer and look forward to many more Frank, Eden, and Hades books to come.

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