Tropic of Death, by Robert Sims

The little girl stood back and admired her sandcastle. She waved to her mother, who didn’t notice, before drifting off to look for shells. Wandering over to a clump of seaweed, she squatted and tugged at a slimy strand. It dislodged something strange in the mud, which she gazed at in fascination.

When a little girl uncovers a severed head on a Queensland beach, a resort town is shaken. But, when a second body is found it seems there is a serial killer on the loose. In Melbourne, criminal profile Rita Van Hassel doesn’t expect to get involved in the case, but soon finds herself on secondment in Whitley.

It doesn’t take long before Rita realises that, murders aside, Whitley is not the idyllic place it first appears on the surface. A secret research base casts a gloomy shadow of the town, and within the town itself there is a dark undercurrent of drugs and standover men. For Rita to solve the crime she is going to have to tread on some very dangerous toes.

Tropic of Death is an absorbing thriller. It is the second novel featuring Detective Rita Van Hassel who is a strong character, determined to do her job in difficult circumstances. With diverse characters and attractive settings, as well as a mixture of intrigue and action, this is a tale sure to delight lovers of crime fiction.

Tropic of Death

Tropic of Death, by Robert Sims
Allen & Unwin, 2009