Author(s): David Free
Ray Saint is the most reviled literary critic in Australia: a hatchet-man with an unpublished novel in his bottom drawer and a finely-honed bullshit detector. After being visited by Jade Howe, a marketing assistant at a respected publishing house - a woman who dangles the possibility of sex with him in return for a rave review for her latest discovery - he falls head over heels. When, soon after, she turns up dead - murdered by a person or persons unknown - Ray is not only broken, he is the prime suspect. Detective Jack Lewin has few doubts about Ray's guilt. Neither, it seems, does the press, who hound Ray's every step. Meanwhile, his vapid editor has temporarily stood him down from reviewing. It will be up to Ray alone to find the man responsible for Jade's murder. Could it be something to do with the plan she boasted about to him - a plan to create a great Australian novelist out of a mediocre manuscript and a shallow front-man? Or could Jade's death have something to with the bestselling popular historian with the criminal past and the harbour-side home. As a battered and bloodied Ray investigates more deeply, he is obliged to face the fact that his drinking has reached the point where blackouts make up more of his days than lucid hours. The truth is, he can't be entirely sure that the killer wasn't him.
David Free is a critic and novelist based in Northern NSW.