Title: Vodka Doesn't Freeze
Author: Leah Giarratano
Publisher: Random House Australia, 2009
Paperback, 336 pages
Genre: Police Procedural, #1 Sergeant Jill Jackson mystery
Source: Purchased from Amazon.
First Line: The razorblade just felt cold and clean as always; her blood warm and soothing.
As a twelve-year-old, Detective Sergeant Jill Jackson of the New South Wales Police was kidnapped and held in a basement for three days. For three endless days, she was abused by men who were never caught and punished for the crime. Now as an adult, she is extremely security conscious and has methods for dealing with recurring nightmares. It is no surprise that she has a deep and abiding hatred of pedophiles and those who procure children for them.
When the body of a man is discovered on a hill overlooking a children's pool, it's immediately clear to Jill that a pedophile has been stopped in his tracks. At first she feels ambivalent about pursuing the man's killer, but when others die-- all known child sex offenders-- Jill knows a serial killer is on the loose.
The further into the investigation she goes, Jill uncovers a long-established club of wealthy pedophiles who mistakenly believe that they are untouchable. As she unearths abusers and victims, she learns that the psychotherapist who's helped her is having her own difficulties-- and Jill's nightmares and panic attacks assume new levels of terror and strength.
If you're not up for the topic of child abuse, pedophiles, and a cast of characters well-populated by pond scum, you might want to give this one a miss. All this didn't deter me, and I found the author's expertise in the subject matter to be very interesting.
The one thing that ultimately did not ice the cake for me was the character of Jill Jackson herself. The woman is filled to the brim with neuroses and doesn't cope with them as well as she'd like to think. Too many things trigger her panic attacks, and she can rapidly turn into a gibbering mass of Jell-O, unable to function. Although catching pedophiles is her stated life's mission, I find it very difficult to believe that she passed all the tests required to become a police officer. (Yes, I know what happened to her when she was a child. It was horrible, and it's wonderful that she's fought back to become a functioning member of society. However... I would not want to be her partner.)
Although Vodka Doesn't Freeze has a lot to recommend it, in the end, I just couldn't buy into the main character. Of course-- your mileage may vary!