The Orchard Murders by Robert Gott
For our Crime Book of the Month we return to 1944 and gloomy, wartime Melbourne in Robert Gott’s The Orchard Murders, the fourth instalment in his Holiday Murders series. I’ve long been a fan of Gott’s books, and was simply itching to read this. If we chose the book of the month based on body count alone, this would win by a country mile. A mass homicide in Nunawading leads under-resourced and overstretched homicide detective Titus Lambert to enlist the help of Helen Lord and Joe Sable, former homicide detectives now established as private investigators. Shifty, shady idolater Anthony Prescott and his bizarre cult pose a clear and present danger to the team. Resolving such a heinous crime becomes an exercise fraught with peril.
Gott’s use of language in this finely written book is superb. He is an exceptional storyteller, and the plot unfolds effortlessly. It’s a joy to find writers who can command their craft in such a way so the action doesn’t feel forced or contrived. Lord and Lambert are as brilliantly unflappable as ever, and I can’t help but cheer for the ensemble’s newcomer, Dr Clara Dawson. Her determination, blunt manner and ribald vocabulary are great – she’s no shrinking violet! We can’t say its champagne crime fiction as it’s not from the Champagne region, but this sure as hell is sparkling crime fiction.