Monday, March 31, 2014
Review of Prime Cut by Alan Carter (Freemantle Press, 2011)
The strengths of Prime Cut are the evocative sense of place, the characterisation, and the mordant sense of wit. Carter places the reader on the southern shore of Western Australia, with its scenic beaches and desolate landscape, and into Hopetoun, a small town being transformed by a massive nearby mine. He populates the town and story with an interesting set of characters who are nicely penned, especially Cato Kwong and Tess Maguire, two damaged cops clinging onto their roles and rethinking their futures. The storytelling is engaging, aided by a very nice dose of dark wit, expressed through some zinging one-liners. For the most part the plot worked well, with a couple of decent hooks and steady pace, but as the story progressed it fractured into too many subplots and some of the scenes felt a little over-the-top and melodramatic. Personally, I felt the Sunderland-linked plotline was not needed and was rooted in too much coincidence - it was if Carter couldn’t decide which case the tale should be about, the washed up torso or the Sunderland murderer and rammed together two plots that could have been the central focus of the story in their own right. Sometimes, less is more. Regardless, I’d be interested to read the second book in the series to see how Cato fares in trying to get his career and personal life back on track.