Saturday, October 7, 2017

Malicious Intent: Kathryn Fox

Summary from the author's website:
Dr Anya Crichton, a pathologist and forensic physician, finds work is sparse for the only female freelancer in the field. Between paying child support, a mortgage and struggling to get her business off the ground, Anya can’t yet afford to fight her ex-husband for custody of their three-year-old son, Ben. 
After her expert evidence helps win a high-profile court case, Anya is asked by lawyer Dan Brody to look into the drug overdose of a young Lebanese girl. While investigating, Anya notices startling coincidences in a number of unrelated suicides she’s been asked to examine by friend and colleague, Detective Sergeant Kate Farrer. 
This is the first novel in the Dr. Anya Crichton series, set in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. A big plus is the strong female protagonist, balancing family responsibilities with dedication to her work. I like this author's writing style; after building the story up to the main investigation, the pacing and tension kept me reading.  The main character's personal circumstances and backstory make the story more realistic and credible, although usually I prefer less of that in a mystery.

My main problem with this book is that I don't like the descriptions of forensic examinations. For some reason I can handle some violence and grit in books, but the realities of autopsies are unappealing. I did appreciate the detailed description of Crichton's considerate handling of the examination of a rape victim. I had forgotten that forensic physicians perform evaluations on victims of crimes involving physical abuse to record the evidence. So, overall, a book covering very interesting topics that sometimes were a challenge for me to read about.

The author is a  physician with a special interest in forensic medicine. This novel won the 2005 Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel. The series consists of seven novels so far, and Fox has also written a book with James Patterson, titled Private Sydney.

Some other resources:


This is my second book read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2017.

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Publisher:  HarperCollins, 2006 (orig. publ. 2004)
Length:      345 pages
Format:     Trade paperback
Series:      Dr. Anya Crichton, #1
Setting:     Sydney, Australia
Genre:      Medical thriller
Source:     I purchased my copy

16 comments:

  1. I'd like to try Fox's books, as I've heard good things about them, but I, too, don't like to read about autopsies. I often skip those descriptions in books.

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    1. Kathy, I think you would like the books but might have the same problems with the forensic exams that I did. Some very interesting social issues were touched on in this book. I did see that the third book in the series focused on the policewoman, Kate Farrer, and her partner, so maybe I will try that one eventually.

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  2. TracyK: Thanks for the mention of my blog. While I found it interesting I have not read another in the series. Generally I appreciate detail in mysteries but not autopsies. I freely admit a bias against detailed depictions of the dead being autopsied. Will you read another?

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    1. Good question, Bill. I like the writing and the characters well enough to read another, but not sure I want to deal with the subject matter. No definite decision on whether I will continue the series or not at this point.

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  3. Glad you found some things to like about this one, Tracy. I agree that the forensic detail is a bit much. Still, I liked the characters; and, as the series goes on, I think they do evolve. If you do decide to read more, I hope you'll enjoy the experience.

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    1. I will probably end up reading more in the series, Margot.

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  4. I'm probably not going to try this one, not because you've put me off, more because I've too much already. I don't think the detail would deter me, if I'm honest.

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    1. I really do know what you mean about having too much, Col. I don't know why I keep buying more fiction to read.

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  5. This series got less forensic-y as it went along - I think this one is the first in what became 6 or 7 and I think Fox was trying to be Australia's answer to Patricia Cornwell - I definitely preferred the later ones which looked at the social and political side of things rather than the purely forensic angle.

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    1. Bernadette, I will probably skip to #3 and then try some later ones. I usually try not to judge an author by their first book, and this one is very good for a debut novel.

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  6. Tracy, the personal life of the protagonist is a welcome touch to a gritty, intense or a graphically descriptive novel such as this one. The detailed forensic examination wouldn't bother me so much as long as it's a good story.

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    1. Prashant, including the personal life does work well in this story. The forensics in this book are not overdone, but I still don't enjoy them. But plenty of readers do. And strangely, TV shows with autopsies don't bother me so much.

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  7. I'd advise just skip the autopsies if you like the books overall.

    That's what I do when I like a book otherwise.

    I don't watch the TV shows with a focus on autopsies. Nope.

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    1. I would like to read the 2nd one, Kathy, but the description says it is about a serial rapist, which is another unpleasant subject. Skipping the unpleasant portions is a good idea, as long as there isn't too much to skip.

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  8. Yes, that's true. If I find that I am skipping too much, then I don't read that author's books any more.

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    1. Another thing I do, Kathy, is read very fast through unpleasant portions of a book. That can, however, break up the rhythm of the writing, so then I work on slowing down the pace of my reading. Sometimes I do that too much with thrillers.

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