Bad Seed by Alan Carter – 2015

badseedI can review this book here – as Alan Carter now lives in New Zealand!  Bad Seed is the third in Carter’s Philip ‘Cato’ Kwong series.  Cato is a Chinese cop in Western Australia who solves crimes and cryptic crossword puzzles and plays the piano.  He is a complex character and we follow his highs and lows through the series.  Each novel can be read separately, but people and incidents do flow through the series and it is good to follow their developments in order.  In Bad Seed disaster falls on the Tan family, previously part of Cato’s circle – and his investigation into the multiple homicides takes him to Shanghai and starts the beginning of a desire to know more about Chinese culture.  The mystery of the killing of most of the Tan family appears to involve Chinese interests buying up Australian land and property, and the story unfolds against the backdrop of the Australian federal elections and a rising tide of xenophobia.  A parallel plot involves Cato’s boss DI Hutchens getting deep in the doo doo with a judicial inquiry into historic child abuse.  Much of the delightful ‘jolly repartee in the face of horror’ through the series is provided by the relationship between Cato and Hutchens.  Carter uses the natural environment to build tension – in the previous novel Getting Warmer it was encroaching bush fires, in Bad Seed it is rain and storms.  So the books are atmospheric, cleverly plotted and with great characters – and I am looking forward to more!

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