Halifax: Transgression is a crime thriller based in Victoria, Australia. If the name Halifax rings a bell with you, (though it meant nothing to me initially), perhaps you have seen the Halifax TV series, six series starring Australia’s own Rebecca Gibney in the lead role, written by Roger Simpson. Although a practiced writer with 21 stand-alone TV shows in the mix, this is Roger Simpson’s first novel, which is to be the first book in a series of Halifax novels, with the second, Halifax: Resurrection his next to be published.
I am rather a fan of crime novels, having read every John Grisham and Harlan Coben published, so when we received this one as an advance copy from one of the Sydney booksellers, it was me who decided to give it a read.
Jane Halifax is a forensic psychiatrist called in by Eric Ringer, Head of Homicide for the Victorian police, to help track down a killer. This is not just any murder, but a vicious, heinous death, of which police initially have no motive or suspects: a ritualistic and seemingly carefully planned murder of a local billionaire. While Jane is keen to help, she has also recently had a tragedy, the death of her husband. This crime scene may involve sad memories for Jane Halifax.
The description of the murder is brief, but very graphic. It relates to an agonising and sadistic killing with a touch of religion added. What is clearly reminded me of was some of the macabre cases in the TV series, Dexter. If you haven’t seen Dexter, do yourself a favour and look it up. I promise you won’t be disappointed. While I won’t go into the details of the murder, suffice it to say that you will get a very clear description upon reading this.
When Jane meets Eric again, having not seen him for over 20 years, she is cautious, as they have had history together, but she wants to help solve the crime before there is possibly another. Unfortunately, there is another and another and another . . . As the investigation progresses, the bodies start to stack up, each murder individual in its method, but strangely with some similarities. All, except the last, appear precisely planned and premeditated. Four equally cruel and vicious murders, at first showing no links between the victims.
While a few suspects are questioned at the start, slowly it is narrowed down, as those with links to the victims are established. As the police team, assisted by Jane as a criminal profiler, head towards solving the crimes, a prime suspect starts to become clear, but finding him is difficult, as he constantly evades police with disguises. Jane calls upon the suspect’s ‘girlfriend’ to try and help, but she isn’t eager, believing he could never be a part of such a crime.
Is the killer acting alone or with someone else? Will Jane and the police team be able to track down the psychopathic killer and bring him to justice before more people lose their lives? And if so, what justice will be achieved?
This is Roger Simpson’s first book, and it is clearly a masterpiece in storytelling. His history of writing for the TV shows has held him in good stead for producing an excellent novel.
It is also nice to read a crime book set in Australia, and to be able to recognise places referred to throughout. This is something pretty rare for Australians, since most are set overseas, particularly in the US.
I can thoroughly recommend this. I will certainly be looking out for the next in the series and for the TV series which I had never heard of before.