Harper Collins, 1999
Synopsis- Mak is young, beautiful- and in grave danger. An international fashion model, she arrived in Australia on assignment, only to find her best friend brutally murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer with a very deadly fetish. Before she knows it, Mak herself is caught up in the hunt for the killer and trapped in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse. Who can you trust and where can you turn when you are the dark obsession of a sadistic psychopath?
Tara Moss began modeling at fifteen and worked as a top model around the world for the years before becoming a full-time crime novelist.
Review- Fetish is the first book in the Makedde Vanderwall series and has long been on my TBR list. I picked up a copy quite some time back from a second-hand bookstore mainly because the protagonist was a psychology student and it hinted at romantic elements alongside the crime plot. I was interested to see how Tara Moss, an accomplished supermodel executed this crime story, especially since I’d heard the extents to which she conducts her research.
Fetish certainly didn’t disappoint. I read it in a day and it remained in my thoughts for days after. Mak is an international model on assignment in Australia from Canada (I think the author’s personal life seeped through a little here…) and arrives to find her best friend has been tortured to death by a Sydney serial killer with a fetish for beautiful, young women in stilettos. Without realising, Mak soon becomes a target and the killer begins to study his prey.
Detective Andy Flynn is on the investigation, happy to keep his mind occupied by supporting Mak and keeping out of the way of his unruly ex-wife. He’s quite abrupt with Mak at first who is keen to be involved in the process to identify the killer. He doesn’t expect her to have such a strong grasp of investigative procedures (her father a retired detective) or be more than just a pretty face (she’s also a forensic psychology student). It’s not long before his attraction for her oversees his professional judgement and though Mak avoids his advances initially, she does succumb to his charms eventually. Andy is a likeable hero, so obviously flawed with anger issues and a disastrous marriage but he’s committed to his job and determined to protect Mak- even if she doesn’t want protecting.
Sometimes I felt Mak was a little too perfect as a protagonist. She’s a beautiful model, she’s smart, she can do martial arts, but she also has a weakness. She sometimes underestimates the situation driven by her dogged curiosity and places herself in dangerous situations. Mak carries out her own investigations and collects a few more enemies along the way. With Mak’s sense of safety threatened she accepts she’s not as invincible as she thinks. When Andy becomes a suspect in a murder, Mak seriously questions her judgement.
There is also a hint of a traumatic history where Mak was a victim of an assault back in Canada and this is probably the aspect of her characterisation that didn’t really work for me. Simply because it didn’t seem to serve a purpose. I’m not sure if it was supposed to show her vulnerability or her resilience, but either way it wasn’t expanded enough to really add value to her current circumstances. Yes, she did learn self-defence but she didn’t appear to have any serious trust issues nor did it prevent her from taking risks. Maybe it’ll be explored further later in the series, but I couldn’t see the point of it in Fetish.
Fetish was a fast-paced read, hard to put down and it’s grotesque crime plot made my stomach churn and my heart race, fearing Mak’s safety. My only recommendation would be DON’T read this book right before bed. I finished it in one day; closing it before my head hit the pillow and it left me in such a hypervigilant state it took me hours to fall asleep!
Fetish is a strong debut for the Makedde crime series and I look forward to immersing myself in the remainder of the series very soon.
Fetish can be purchased at Fishpond and other leading book retailers.
This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge: