The credibility deficit
The third Natalie King thriller fails to maintain the tension.
When Jenna Radford first enters forensic psychiatrist Natalie King’s office, she wants to prevent her ex-husband, Malik Essa, from gaining custody of their children. Soon comes her accusation that he has abused one of them. This I Would Kill For, the third psychological thriller featuring King, centres on the ensuing battle between the parents, who are compromised by their pasts and their personalities. The key question – once it emerges that there has indeed been abuse – is whether Malik is responsible. To add
to the intrigue, King is pregnant and the baby’s paternity is not established.
The novel starts strongly, but the tension that should develop dissipates because the book is too long. Buist, a psychiatrist herself, often forgets to turn off the explanation switch. This, plus a surfeit of rhetorical questions and excessive amounts of Twitter reaction to the court case, required a much stronger editorial hand.
Making matters worse is King’s credibility. In traditional antihero style, she has problems: she is bipolar, untrusting, explosive. But an overemphasis on these traits makes it hard to buy her as a
Buist is not a natural fiction writer – there’s a slight staginess and lack of conviction here – and with better advice she could have produced a much tighter, more compelling novel. Her book is a reminder of how superb the crimefiction masters, such as fellow Australian Peter Temple, really are.
Anne Buist: a slight staginess. THIS I WOULD KILL FOR, by Anne Buist (Text, $37)