Wednesday, July 6, 2016


THE MURDER TRAIL by Leonie Mateer (2015)

Reviewed by Karen Chisholm

Audrey is a psychopath and a serial killer residing in a coastal town in the rural far north of New Zealand. Audrey discovers a drug cartel is using her Tiromoana Cabin Resort for cocaine trafficking. She appears to be helping the police when the drugs go missing and bodies start turning up, but is she?

The third book in the Audrey Murders series, THE MURDER TRAIL is set in a very picturesque location in the far north of New Zealand. Audrey owns a beautiful holiday cabin property perched on a rural mountain top. She's been unlucky in love and she's a serial killing psychopath.

Not having read either of the earlier books in the series, this reader relied heavily on the blurb to set up the scenario. From the psychopathic serial killer, through to the likelihood that this property is remote, and the whole drug cartel moved into one of the cabins bit. Pretty soon the sketchy information provided by the blurb wasn't answering quite enough of the questions that kept arising into Audrey's background, her behaviour and why a psycHopathic serial killer is running a holiday resort in the first place.

The central plot is a drug cartel hiding out on a "fishing trip" arranging for the collection and distribution of smuggled drugs from such a remote location. Audrey's spoiling of their plans is an interesting twist, but the whole romantic sidebar that springs from that didn't make a lot of sense (one would assume it's part of the backstory though). Because there are a lot of aspects to Audrey, and her location, that likewise aren't given any context here, but rather are what they are, it was hard to avoid the feeling that this is a series that you absolutely must read in order. (The Murder Suite / The Cabin by the Sea/The Murder Trail). Without them Audrey came across as an odd mixture of languid, almost passive psychopathy, threatening in some ways and strangely disconnected in others.

Karen Chisholm is one of Australia's leading crime reviewers. She created Aust Crime Fiction in 2006, reviews for Newtown Review of Books, and is a Judge of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and the Ned Kelly Awards. She kindly shares and republishes her reviews of crime and thriller novels written by New Zealanders on Crime Watch as well as on Aust Crime Fiction

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