Alex's Reviews > Fetish

Fetish by Tara Moss
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's review
Feb 22, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: australian, crime
Read from February 21 to 22, 2012

Tara Moss has done something interesting: she has written an amateurish, third-rate crime novel, but not one that made me want to never read her again. This is a skill, but it's not one that can disguise the sheer sloppiness of Fetish.

Makedde ("Ma-cay-de") Vanderwall is a psychology student who works as a model to pay for her tuition. Makedde comes to Sydney for work and to meet her childhood friend, only to find that she has been brutally murdered by the Stiletto Killer. From there, Makedde flirts with gross professional misconduct by bedding the lead investigator on the case, without realising that the killer has had a fixation on her from the start.

Australian readers reading fiction set in Australia obviously have different criteria and are harsher judges; familiarity can breed contempt, as can obsequious attempts at familiarity. By setting this novel on the streets and suburbs of Sydney (and not naming David Jones), Moss is asking her primary readers to come along with her, and telling them how she imagines her adopted country. While she had police consultants while constructing this novel, the police conduct does not jive with what I imagine Australian policing to be like, nor what I want it to be like.
Every other aspect that makes the book geographically Australian seems to be lip service.

Moss' voice, on the other hand, comes across as Australian - but so Australian that nearly every character has the same thought process and way of speech, even the Canadians. The exception to this rule is the Greek-Australian Jimmy Cassimatis, whose dialogue is liberally sprinkled with "skata!", "pousti" and "malaka". It's nice for Moss to break out of her monotone to bring us an endless barrage of cultural stereotyping.

In providing chapters written from the obscured viewpoint of the killer, Moss reveals too much information for her "is X the actual killer?" feints to work. Everyone that Makedde comes to suspect is able to be instantly shot down by even the least attentive reader. There is very little tension to the mystery because, while the crimes committed are fetishistically twisted, they have little in the way of impact.
"I saw my friend's entrails spilled across the beach? Better go back to work." "My estranged wife, brutally murdered? Eh, this can't possibly have repercussions."

Moss tries to play the psychological profile angle, but she's no Val McDermid. Her heroine is obviously modelled (hoho) on Moss herself, and promoting her as a "psycho magnet" to justify the multiple scrapes that she's bound to get into with a variety of serial killers is going to require a hefty suspension of disbelief if I read any more of these. Crime writers should only really attempt to have their leads targeted by serial killers once in a life time - at least when the killing is part of their MO, rather than the killer trying to silence their pursuer - because otherwise the entire house of cards falls to pieces. Tony Hill was only dumb enough to get captured once. The other attempt was personal.

There's got to be a rule book somewhere, and Moss hasn't read it. Admittedly she was only 23 when she wrote this, but no book gets published under the steam of one person. There should have been an editor to tell her that "eluded" and "alluded" are not the same thing, that "tailor-made pants" are by definition "specially made to fit" the person for whom the tailor made them, and that murder investigations shouldn't be dictated by friends of the deceased.

Still, Fetish may not be very good, but it was eminently readable. After the slogs that I've had of late, it was pleasant to read something inconsequential that flows. Strangely, Moss has since moved on to paranormal novels. Guess she's followed the blood.
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Reading Progress

02/19/2012 "Let's see if we can trust a crime writer whose novels all feature a photo of herself on the cover."
02/20/2012 page 51
13.0% "Moss just used "eluded" when she meant "alluded"."
09/09/2016 marked as: read

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