Bodysurfing: A Catherine Kint Mystery by Hugh McGinlay

‘The question was: what time is acceptable to have one’s first drink? This led to the second question: if time is meaningless on holiday, does that render the first question moot?’

Milliner Catherine Kint and her friend Detective Britt Houden are on holiday, on a beach at Ocean Grove enjoying the Australian summer. They are three days into their holiday, relaxing into their routine when a body is discovered in the water.

‘The body was male, about 170 centimetres and very, very dead.’

It is quickly established that the man, a candidate in the upcoming Ocean Grove by-election, has been murdered. Britt Houden is not happy with the way the police investigation is being handled (although she is quite impressed by one of the local policemen). Britt, Catherine and their friends Boris and Andy all become involved (to varying degrees) in the search to identify the killer.

And, as they sift through the sand and trawl for clues, they find that there is plenty happening just under the surface at Ocean Grove. In addition to the by-election, with its caste of squeaky-clean candidates, there is a group of seahorse poachers operating in a lucrative illegal market.

Can Catherine and Britt work out who the murderer is? Can they dodge the various red herrings being tossed their way? There’s a fraught domestic situation which may be related to the case, and a strange man who may be able to shed light on some events.

Clearly, investigating a murder and tracking down seahorse poachers is important work, even if some of Britt’s police colleagues wish that she’d leave it to them. And what would a holiday be without a hint (perhaps) of romance?

This is the first of the Catherine Kint mysteries I have read, and I now want to read the first two. A milliner’s attention to detail is clearly an important attribute when investigating a mystery.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith