In Northern NSW, heavily pregnant and a week away from maternity leave, Detective Sergeant Kate Miles is exhausted and counting down the days. But a violent hold-up at a local fast food restaurant with unsettling connections to her own past means that her final days will be anything but straightforward.
When a second case is dumped on her lap, the closed case of a man drowned in recent summer floods, what begins as a simple informal review quickly grows into something more complicated. Kate can either write the report that’s expected of her or investigate the case the way she wants to.
As secrets and betrayals pile up, and the needs of her own family intervene, how far is Kate prepared to push to discover the truth?
The Torrent is Dinuka McKenzie’s debut and, I’m predicting, the start of a bestselling career. As I write this, The Torrent hasn’t even hit the shelves, yet McKenzie is already making waves. The Torrent won the HarperCollins Australia 2020 Banjo Prize, while her unpublished manuscript Taken was longlisted for the 2020 Richell Prize. There’s no doubt that McKenzie is a compelling new voice in Australian crime fiction. I didn’t even have a hard copy of the book. Instead, I read a PDF on my computer – something I normally loath doing – yet I couldn’t stop reading. It was that good.
Detective Sergeant Kate Miles is heavily pregnant and biding time until she departs for maternity leave when her boss, and unrepentant womaniser, Andrew Skinner, hands her a file for The Marshall Case – a young couple swept away by floodwaters. The husband, Joel, died, while his wife survived and is now doing the rounds of national media. Joel’s mother has some suspicions about his death, but Skinner just wants Kate to confirm that it’s an open and shut drowning. It’s what Kate would like too but she discovers that things are more complicated than they first appear.
McKenzie has created an outstanding protagonist in Kate; she’s complex, compelling, and being female, pregnant and of Sri Lankan descent, a refreshing change from the usual jaded male detectives we see in the genre. The Northern NSW setting is also an interesting choice. But it’s McKenzie’s writing that really sets her apart. She weaves an impeccably plotted tale, with pitch-perfect prose, making intelligent choices, with unusual characters, leading the reader through a series of unpredictable turns to an explosive end. One that suggests this is the first book in a series. Utterly marvellous!