Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin. (2020).
**4.5 out of 5 stars**
Detective Emmet is starting to regret his promotion to head of the Missing Persons Unit as the routine reports pile up. So when a woman named Natale goes missing, he’s convinced this is the big case he’s been waiting for as her husband and parents insist she would never abandon her children. But things aren’t always as they seem and everyone in the family, including Natale, is hiding secrets. Then the investigation is turned on its head when a woman’s body is found…then another. The case has turned into a hunt for a serial killer and time is running out. But to really understand these shocking crimes, Emmett and his team will need to go back decades, where a young boy is found with his mother’s body…
Wow! What a fantastic debut for this author who has produced an excellent addition to the Australian crime fiction scene. I was totally enthralled in this one. I hope it ends up being a series actually because Emmett was a great lead and it did have the feel at the end for potentially becoming an ongoing series. There were a few clever red herrings in relation to the killer, I kept changing my mind as to who I thought it was. I thought the flashbacks to the killer’s history was a great touch as it showed how and why the killer was the way they were. It did jump between quite a few different characters but it wasn’t confusing at all, it was really well done.
Overall: a compelling and gripping debut from the author that will hopefully lead to more just like it, I’m looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.