The cred­i­bil­ity deficit

The third Natalie King thriller fails to main­tain the ten­sion.

New Zealand Listener - - BOOKS & CUL­TURE - by ANNA ROGERS

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

trust­wor­thy pro­fes­sional.

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)

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