By Marianne Delacourt
Allen and Unwin, 2012.
In Australia we’re privileged to have some world-class crime writers including the two Peters, Corris and Temple, but I wasn’t expecting all that much when I picked up the gaudily-jacketed Stage Fright by local Brisbane author Marianne Delacourt who, it turns out, is the alter ego of SF author Marianne de Pierres.
My first impression of the book was totally mistaken and I was delighted to find that Stage Fright is a really very good crime story and the third in the series about Tara Sharp, PI, who lives in the garage behind her well-to-do parents’ home in Perth.
In an unusual paranormal twist, she is able to read auras and even though she once thought she might be off her rocker, she has been taught to use her gift and it gives her the advantage of often being able to tell what’s going on under the surface with people she meets.
In a previous adventure she made a bad enemy out of Perth mob boss Johnny Viaspa who sent a killer after her. She decides it would be best to get out of town for a while and accepts an assignment in Brisbane protecting Slim Sledge, an over-the-hill American rap star who is attempting a come-back gig in the city.
At first it seems that the only problem that the flaky Slim has is his wildly over-enthusiastic fans, who scare him out his mind, but Tara soon realises that there is a much greater evil lurking in the shadows and is determined to do whatever it takes to protect her client. The plot thickens when Johnny Viaspa makes an appearance but luckily Tara has the assistance of lethal-looking bikie Bon Jovi Ames and the hippie Inigo.
The cover blurb says that the book will appeal to all Janet Evanovich fans and I’m sure that’s absolutely true. There are some parallels between Tara Sharp and Stephanie Plum, Evanovitch’s disaster-prone bounty hunter character, including the fact that they are both very amusing reads. I’ve been a Plumb fan for many years but I’m going out on a limb and saying that I actually prefer Tara because her character is so well-drawn and she also likes galahs.
I ordered the first two Tara adventures, Sharp Shooter and Sharp Turn, from Brisbane libraries, devoured them and I’m now champing at the bit for the next installment which is due out later this year. We have another world-class crime author here in Australia.