Author: Karen M. Davis
Karen M. Davis is a talented author who spent decades as a police officer and her experience and on the job knowledge certainly shines through in another gripping police procedural set on Australia’s own East Coast.
There has been a much larger gap between books this time round, which means my chances of remembering Deadly Obsession are about zip. This is the third book in the Lexie Rogers series, and I have read the first two books, but it’s been that long that I might as well have been new to the characters so I have no doubt that those meeting Lexie and the rest of the cast for the first time will be perfectly comfortable reading this as a stand alone (though they may want to go get the earlier volumes after they finish).
Lexie Rogers is a detective at Bondi Junction who has already faced more than some officers do in their entire career. I love Lexie as a character; she is tough, smart, driven and good at her job but she has also suffered PTSD and debilitating episodes of fear. Lexie has learned to trust her instincts and they have kept her alive more than once.
Fatal Mistake sees Lexie take on a job deep undercover as Lara Wild to help bring down a drug syndicate. She is moved out of her house, changes her appearance and tells her colleagues she’s away on holidays while her parents still think she’s working at Bondi Junction. There are only three people outside the UC Branch that know what’s happening; her best friend, her partner and her boyfriend.
We have multiple narrators and the whole story is told in a third person voice which certainly makes it easier to keep track of the storyline. Multiple simultaneous plot arcs have us jumping around a lot, and wondering if it’s all connected.
Lexie is getting prepared to go deep undercover as a drug distributor and expose a drug dealing ring working out of a Sydney club. She is working with Rex Donaldson, an undercover officer who has had opportunity to save her life in the past, also another officer from Bondi Junction is bought in late in the preparation stage.
Her partner Brad is working the day a bomb is detonated at a bikie club open day killing or wounding a police officer, bikies of 2 rival clubs and civilians. He could well have been injured in the blast had he not been on his way back to the car with his temporary partner Berni.
Berni gets a bit of page time because after the bombing she takes some stress leave and we follow to get to know her a little better. A decent period of stress leave sees Brad gain a new partner, Lexie’s best friend Dani and we can see a great dynamic playing out between Brad and Dani, who are both good cops with great instincts.
Josh Harrison is Lexie’s boyfriend, currently working in Byron Bay as part of a task force targeting drugs in the area. Their main focus has been marijuana plantations that are not always easy to trace as they are on Crown land.
There is also a mystery character, we get to watch what they’re up to and listen in on their life but we don’t actually find out who they are. There are clues and suggestions but sometimes even great detective skills won’t take you straight to the right answers.
Fatal Mistake has a lot going on, and none of it good. There are bikies, betrayal, sex, lust and power plays as well as drugs, contracts and crooked cops. The action is page to page with not a dull moment and imaginations running overdrive. To be honest, I’ve never been involved in the seedy underworld of Sydney’s sex and drugs clubs and I never even watched Underbelly so I have no actual knowledge of crime syndicates, undercover operations and police procedures but Davis writes a compelling and convincing tale that had me believing this was all completely possible.
Lexie is still only quite young so with all she has already faced in her career it’s no wonder her mother is forever trying to convince her to find a slightly less dangerous line of work.
The tension is palpable throughout; Lexie has been shot, stabbed and lost her brother in the line of duty and still she is determined to be the best officer she can. She’s tough and she’s learned to always listen to her instincts, not listening nearly got her killed. She is up to the challenge of undercover work but she needs to be very careful, having your cover blown is a very dangerous outcome.
I loved the pacing, the characters, the tension and the tangled web of the underworld. Davis certainly kept me guessing and the journey to the reveal was nail-biting. I needed an early night but Lexie wasn’t going to let me go that easy.
Lovers of the Lexie Rogers series, lovers of police procedurals, lovers of crime fiction and thrillers are going to love this book. It won’t matter if you have followed Lexie’s career or you just meet her now; I’m sure you will love Fatal Mistake.
I am hoping for more books in this series but Davis has tied things up quite well at the end of this one so I fear that it may have only been a trilogy. If this is the end of the road for Lexie I look forward to what’s next from Davis, she will definitely be on the watch list.
Fatal Mistake is book #30 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.