The third instalment in the Stella Hardy series is another solid example of Australian crime writing.
Author JM Green. Image courtesy of Scribe Publications.
With Shoot Through, JM Green presents readers with the inimitable Stella Hardy for the third time. In this crime thriller, Hardy is as unpredictable, intrepid, hard-drinking and irresponsible as she was in Too Easy and Green’s debut, Good Money, which was shortlisted for several awards including the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.
There is nothing conventional about Stella, except perhaps her left-of-centre political views. Green peppers Stella’s adventures with sarcastic asides and light political commentary, which leavens the narrative without detracting from the fast-paced action.
Shoot Through follows Stella’s search for a killer, after a prisoner named Joe Phelan is found dead on the same day that Stella is at the prison visiting her incarcerated brother. The authorities have deemed the death a suicide, despite evidence to the contrary. In her quest to find the murderer, Stella encounters a powerful international organisation that runs privatised jails, a corrupt politician, an assassin, and other dubious characters. She is helped by a number of old friends, whom readers of the Stella Hardy series will recognise from Green’s earlier novels.
Some of the most gripping and realistic action occurs in the scenes at the prison. Unfortunately, not all the action is equally realistic; there are just a few too many coincidences to be plausible. Of course, real life is not without coincidences, and most readers will take them in their stride. It is also interesting to note that most of the heroes are women and many of the villains are men.
People might say that ‘crime doesn’t pay’ but we are fortunate that so many local crime and thriller writers are being published in Australia. Examples include Susan Hurley’s Eight Lives, Christian White’s The Nowhere Child, Chris Hammer’s Scrublands and Sarah Bailey’s The Dark Lake. Hopefully some of these novels will make it to the big screen – Shoot Through has the necessary ingredients for such a leap, not least because of its quirky and appealing protagonist, Stella Hardy.
3 stars out of 5 ★★★
Shoot Through by JM Green
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Categories: Fiction | Australian | Crime
Release Date: 2 July 2019