This book will appeal to fans of Jonathan Kellerman and Andrew Vachss. "Shiny Water" is a gritty, graphic mystery featuring a forensic psychologist who gets tangled up in a murder case when two children she evaluated for a custody hearing in a nasty divorce case end up murdered.
The psychologist is a fully developed character starting with her name, Michael, (she was named by her father who was drunk at the time of her birth and thought she was a son) and the fact that her mother and all her relatives refuse to call her by her given name, referring to her instead as "girl".
Michael has a boatload of interesting idiosyncrasies. She is a nice blend of tough detective, similar to Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, and the prototypical empathetic psychologist.
Anna Salter, the author, is an internationally known forensic psychologist and authority on sex offenders. Her expertise is demonstrated clearly in the scenes where the children and Michael interact.
Ms. Salter's disillusionment with the system that often damages those it purports to protect shows in the courtroom scenes and in Michael's analysis of how far apart "justice" and the legal system are.
Filled with the kind of quirky secondary characters that make books written by southern authors so colorful, this book is fast paced, and full of the wonderful insights that make a suspense novel engaging, as well as plot twists that make for a solid mystery.
The books that continue the series, "Fault Lines" and "White Lies" are as well written as "Shiny Water".
Pocket Books, 1997.
Reviewed by C. Kless