Title:An Easeful Death
Author: Felicity Young
Publisher:Freemantle Arts Centre Press 
No. of Pages: 299
In Perth, Western Australia a young woman has been killed: her body shaved, spray-painted bronze and posed provocatively with the words easeful death written on her leg. Stevie Hooper, a new member of the city’s Serious Crime Squad, plays a pivotal role in the investigation. When Stevie’s old friend and current boss Monty McGuire goes out on a limb to secure the services of a noted profiler to help with the case, Stevie acts as the team’s liaison in addition to her other duties.
On one level this is a fairly standard police procedural featuring a team of investigators with varying degrees of skill and integrity. Young introduces them all really cleverly in the first chapter just as the case is getting underway and because of this I found it easy to accept them all as realistic people rather than the extreme caricatures that sometimes populate these types of teams. Although Stevie and Monty do take centre stage the addition of a profiler, the wannabe-cop son of the Superintendent, a few ex-spouses and other members of the squad in the mix there’s much more of an ensemble cast than I’ve read in a while. I didn’t like them all equally but I enjoyed the credibility they offered the story.
There’s quite a complex plot but it’s artfully layed out. There are several threads that may, or may not, intertwine with the present case and elements of the investigators’ personal lives play into events too but Young juggles it all expertly. More than one person has secrets which make them, at least for a time, believable in the role of killer. I was smugly sure of my own deductive powers and even though it turns out I had it all wrong the fact that I could just as easily have been right makes this classic whodunnit material.
Something I enjoyed about this book may not even have been a deliberate intention of the author’s but I liked the way it demonstrated the issue of police expecting members of the public to be entirely compliant with their investigative methods, regardless of how invasive or ill-aimed they might be, but react badly when those same methods are used on fellow officers. It’s not the first time I’ve been struck by this dichotomy but it’s a subject that I always think could benefit from another airing and it was good to be reminded of it so cleverly.
On top of delivering a genuinely suspenseful ending Young has captured the desperation of an investigative team having too little evidence and too much pressure exceptionally well in the lead-up to that resolution. I look forward to reading the next in this series and as it was published last year I can do so when it suits me.
My rating 4/5
Reviewed by Damien at Crime Down Under in January 2007
Felicity Young has two other books published (so far) A Certain Malice (which is a standalone novel and which I reviewed here) and Harum Scarum which follows on from An Easeful Death (and which I haven’t read or reviewed) (yet)