3 Star rating
The First Diane Rowe Case
By Donna Malane
ISBN# 9781775490197
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by guest reviewer Alina

surrenderBeware of spoilers

Diane Rowe finds people for a living. She used to work side by side with police detectives, until her little sister was found dead on a golf course a year ago, and her life was turned upside-down. She started drinking, interfering with police work, stressing and annoying the detectives in charge of her sister’s case (including her husband, a cop too). So now, after a year of trying really hard to find out what had happened and how come Niki died, she is divorced and banned from working with the police on missing persons’ cases. She has also only just given up the search. However, the news that her sister’s presumed killer has just been found dead (killed exactly the way her little sister had been), makes her start the chase all over again. A pretty hard thing to do when the police are blocking her every move. Plus, the Inspector Frank McFay has given her a missing person’s case, as a gesture of good faith, on both sides, he says; it’s obvious that he really wants her off her sister’s case.

When I first picked up the book, I got really excited after the first few paragraphs. It really felt like a great read. And even though it was a good book, I did not manage to connect to the main character, and that spoiled it for me a lot. This is the kind of book that builds a relationship of trust and friendship with the reader, so that they find a place for themselves in its world. It’s definitely a really good first book in a series. I am certain a lot of people will think Diane extremely interesting. And for good reason: she is young, beautiful and tall, the kind of woman who definitely catches a man’s eye. She is also smart, tenacious, with good cop instincts, a real pro. Too rough for my taste, though, she behaves more like a man than a woman, at least that’s how it felt for me. I’m more into cozy mysteries, so Diane’s complaints about being without a man for 6 months left me completely cold. What made me warm up to her and her little sister was the fact that they lost their mom at a young age. They each dealt with it in their own way: Niki with her obsessive-compulsive behaviors and becoming a stripper later in life, because she felt it empowered her, and Diane by yelling at her sister and at the whole world:

“I’d never learned to keep my mouth shut or my opinion to myself, despite that being suggested to me on a regular basis by a number of people in my life”.

Yes, she is a rebel, with a crazy family and a one-eyed dog, the perfect kind of character to guarantee good entertainment. Speaking of entertainment, the way Diane describes her trips to the strip joint her sister used to work for, Pussy Galore, were extremely funny. Here’s how she sees a stripper’s dance act:

“She took custody of the pole and began swaying around it, her tiny hot pants and lace bra so luminous, a diffuse halo outlined her body. She walked four steps to the pole at the other end and swayed some more. I had a horrible suspicion it was my entrance that had set this enervated movement in motion.”

I was just beginning to like Diane’s good friend Gemma (much more than Diane, in fact), when she goes and starts lecturing her on sisterly love:

“All Niki ever did was try and live up to your expectations. She never judged you, Diane. She was just a fucked-up kid trying to do her best. But her best was never going to be good enough for you, was it?”

Well, go and read for yourselves about Niki’s “best” and then tell me what you think. For me, Gemma’s lecturing did not have it’s place there. It felt cliched and completely unreasonable. I don’t know what I’d do if I learnt my little sister was “best” at that.

After I finished the book I googled the author and found out she is Australian and that the action in the book takes place in Australia. I must admit I hadn’t the slightest clue while I was reading. Now I think of it, I did once stop to consider the British spelling of a word, but I dismissed it immediately. I think this was my first Australian author!

I definitely recommend this book to fans of thrillers, murder, and police investigation type books. It’s got not only two murders to solve, but also a missing person’s investigation running parallel to the murder cases.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*