Text Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, 2013
Angela Savage will appear at the Terror Australia Festival in Cygnet Tasmania 1 to 3 November 2019
Angela Savage is the Director of Writers Victoria. She is a Melbourne-based crime writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. Her first novel, Behind the Night Bazaar, won the 2004 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript.
Savage is a winner of the Scarlett Stiletto Award and has twice been shortlisted for Ned Kelly awards.
This is the third of the Jayne Keeney PI novels, a story that begins in Thailand in 1997 with the discovery of the body of a young tour guide by war surgeon Sigrid – this is Pla, whose death is dismissed by the local police as a drowning accident despite evidence of foul play. Enter our heroine Jayne Keeney and her partner, business and personal, Rajiv, holidaying in Krabi. Jayne and Rajiv have also enjoyed the services of Pla as tour guide and returning to the tour office two days later to request another tour, they discover that she is dead.
Jayne’s second career as an English teacher is clearly safer but less exciting than the PI business and Jayne is unable to leave this death alone. The death of Pla’s room-mate follows quickly and makes Jayne even more determined to get to the bottom of what is clearly much more than the random death of a tour guide. Rajiv gives her a time limit and is far less keen on the investigation, and it soon becomes clear that others don’t want them poking their noses in either.
The environmental protest and village activism activities of Pla soon emerge as a possible reason for her murder, but unravelling village politics and a corrupt law enforcement system proves both difficult and dangerous.
In The Dying Beach Angela Savage explores the negative impact of economic development on Thai society. The very title is a double-entendre. Jayne and Sigrid are both fluent in Thai language and we have in this and in many other aspects of the book a window into Thai society- this Thai speaking issue also precipitates more attacks and another murder at the hands of our bumbling though vicious perpetrator.
Knee deep in nefarious deeds, this book is one that keeps you up at night – I can cliché away with page turner and can’t put it downs, but they are indeed apt. One scene with a black cobra makes us sweat as much as our plucky heroine. Jayne’s capacity to not only solve crimes but also to solve bigger problems using her understanding of people and how they tick is a particularly pleasing element in this story.
All of this will send me to the first two in the Jayne Keeney series and to Angela Savage’s latest work Mother of Pearl (2019), also nicely titled for double meanings and cross-cultural pointers.