CRIMSON LAKE by Candice Fox, Penguin/Random House.
Former police detective Ted Conkaffey has fled to Cairns after being accused, but not convicted, of an appalling crime. He’s mainlining Wild Turkey, chatting to a goose, and teaching her goslings to swim in the bath. And he’s the straight guy in the partnership of two charming, but damaged, private detectives in the little town of Crimson Lake. Amanda Pharrell is a convicted killer and a twitching, rhyming, human tattoo. They set about solving the disappearance of a local author, whose wedding band has been found in a crocodile. Crimson Lake couldn’t be richer in character and atmosphere. As for plot, there’s plenty to fascinate; as Amanda says, “I’m so fascinated, someone should pin me in their hair and wear me to the races.”