Hindsight is the debut novel for Adelaide writer Melanie Casey. Cassie Lehman comes from a long line of women with a psychic gift, which differs for e...moreHindsight is the debut novel for Adelaide writer Melanie Casey. Cassie Lehman comes from a long line of women with a psychic gift, which differs for each of the recipients. Cass sees and experiences the final moments of those who have died violently. She sees and feels the full force of their pain and terror through their eyes. It’s a gift that has led her to live the life of a recluse with her mother and grandmother.
Detective Ed Dyson has never gotten over the disappearance of his wife and unborn child. He’s stayed more or less on track with the help of Phil, his partner, and together they have tried to piece together what happened to her in their off-duty hours. A killing witnessed in the alley of a country town brings Cass and Ed together in an unlikely combination to track down a serial killer.
It’s a pleasure to read a work set in familiar territory (in this case, South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula) , and Casey delivers a nicely paced tale that makes the pages turn faster than a pancake on a hot stove. The two main characters are both nicely well penned, though partner Phil once or twice felt a little stock-character-like.
What I really enjoyed was the struggle that Cass had with her gift. Though their gifts differed from hers, it was a struggle Cass has shared with her mother and grandmother. It is perhaps true that anyone who is especially gifted struggles with its use. While Cass very much wants to use her sight to find the killer, the cost for her is high. Like her namesake Cassandra, the Trojan prophetess, her sight manifests like a psychic possession. While seeing her visions, Cass is helpless, and to an observer seems possessed. As the blurb states, this is a “not-so-sexy gift”. It has left her without friends, without romance and with uncertain social skills. A similar “gift” was used in the Star Trek: Voyager episode Ex Post Facto, where the memory of the victim was implanted into the killer. Their sentence – to relive the victim’s final moments every eight hours for the rest of their lives. This is not the stuff of gentle tea-leaves-at the-bottom-of-the-cup.
This was a debut work that was a pleasure to read. The relationship between Ed and Cass was perhaps closer at the end of the story than I thought it might have been, given the baggage both of them carry. However, the frantic climax perhaps burned away some of the layers of the past. The sense of foreboding that pervades Aeschylus’ Agamemnon is nicely acknowledged by quotes from the playwright himself at the beginning of each section. This is an excellent weekend read for the crime fiction buff who likes a subtle dose of psychic with their reading (less)