Regular readers of my blog will know how much I love Candice Fox. I loved the crime fiction series I read of hers this year starting with Crimson Lake, then Redemption Point and Gone by Midnight. So I was excited to pick up Never Never at a recent book sale. It’s co-written by bestselling author James Patterson and Candice. It was also my first time reading a James Patterson novel.
Never Never introduces the character Detective Harriet Blue. She’s a boxing, swearing, tough Sydney cop who works in the sex crimes division. Or she did until her brother gets arrested for a string of brutal murders and her chief decides it’s best that she get out of town so she won’t hamper the investigation. So he sends her to a uranium mine in the West Australian desert where there has been a string of disappearances of young mine workers.
Harriet (Harry) is also given a partner, Edward Whittaker (Whitt) who is someone she doesn’t know if she can trust. The pair drive to the mine site and launch an investigation, hampered by the mine bosses, reluctant FIFO workers, a local drug dealing gang, a group of environmental warriors called the Earth Soldiers and the harsh landscape. In fact, they get more hindrance then they do help – even after the first body is discovered.
The story is told from the perspective of Harry and the reader also gets insight into the mind of the killer through short chapter bursts. A cat and mouse game ensues and Harry doesn’t realise for a while that she’s now someone’s target in a sick and deadly game.
The chapters were really short – sometimes only a couple of pages long – which I know is something James Patterson likes to do. I could clearly see Candice Fox’s writing style shining through in her feisty protagonist and in the dialogue. It was a book that was easy to breeze through.
But unfortunately I had a lot of problems with the premise of this novel. Firstly, I didn’t really understand how a Sydney cop could or would be transferred to a completely different state to work on a case that’s not really her forte. But I could get past that. Secondly, the premise of a killer and active shooter being able to kill people around a mine site and yet the mine bosses don’t want to suspend operations or help in the investigation was totally unbelievable. Whatever your opinion of mining is, you won’t find a more safety conscious and regulated industry in Australia. The safety of workers is the number one priority. Occupational health and safety is everything onsite – although what you do outside is your business. So I really didn’t feel that this disorganised mine where workers go missing and no one cares rang true. I think it was more likely a convenient plot point.
I couldn’t really get past this problem with the book. But I also spotted the killer a mile away and thought their reason for doing what they were doing was kind of lame. I hate giving negative reviews and while I had problems with this book, I think Candice Fox is a great author and I’ll still autobuy any book she writes. But I’ll probably stick to Candice Fox as a solo author.
Verdict: This was a little bit unbelievable and disappointing for me.