Young, Felicity - 'Take Out'
Skye Williams is a district nurse and Stevie Hooper's friend. Skye is visiting a stroke patient, Lilly Hardegan, who has become worried because her neighbours have disappeared. Stevie belongs to Perth's Central Crime Squad and really shouldn't be entering the house, but Skye has already tried unsuccessfully to get the local cops to take an interest. There are clear signs of what seems to have been a hasty departure - an unfinished meal, an overflowing mail box, and the stove is still on and contains the charred remains of apple pies. And then they make a discovery they had not expected.
Mrs Hardegan lives next door with her son who is also absent. Her speech has been severely affected by a stroke, which makes communication difficult, particularly as she seems to be prone to make up her own words.
Stevie feels that the local cops are not taking the case seriously enough and continues to take an interest even though she knows she should walk away. She has more than enough on her own plate - her husband Monty is due to have heart surgery any day now - but the death of someone close to her means there is no way she can disconnect.
I liked the way TAKE OUT is constructed. There are some threats that raise the level of tension in the book very effectively. There is Monty's impending surgery, threats to Stevie herself and to her daughter Izzy, and a plot that involves a trade in bringing Thai girls into Australia illegally. There is an interesting device which gives Mrs Hardegan "a voice" that reveals her role in her neighbours' disappearance.
I'm not sure I understand what the title means and Young has to resort to a heightened level of coincidences to bring the plot strands together. Nevertheless TAKE OUT provided a satisfying read.
This review first appeared on Mysteries in Paradise.
Kerrie Smith, Australia