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Aussie Book Review: Deadly Obsession by Karen M Davis

“Death, drugs and deviants … Sydney just got a whole lot smaller for Lexie Rogers.


In the early hours of a wintry morning, a young nurse’s body is found at Clovelly Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Apart from a puncture wound in her neck, she’s in perfect condition. But she’s also clutching a rose – and there’s an empty packet of prescription drugs in her pocket.

To Detective Lexie Rogers and her partner Brad Sommers, it seems like a staged suicide. And as they dig deeper, Lexie discovers the case is too close to home – the dead girl was a friend of the woman who destroyed her Lexie’s marriage. Struggling with her own recent breakup and the numbing flashbacks of violent attacks she’s suffered on the job, Lexie throws herself into the case, determined to solve the murder.

Tracking down the killer with the help of an old bikie friend, Lexie and her colleagues set a trap in an ambitious sting. But there’s a big difference between naming a suspect and catching a killer … and Lexie’s about to discover that sometimes the past comes back to bit you.”
I’ve had Karen Davis on my radar since I read and reviewed her first novel, Sinister Intent (my review here), so I was absolutely ecstatic when Deadly Obsession landed on my doorstep and couldn’t wait to read it.
Yes, Lexie’s back and, although she’s suffering with PTSD, a broken relationship, severe anxiety attacks and still grieves the loss of her brother Linc, you can count on her to take you on an investigation where nobody escapes the net of suspicion as she wades through the paperwork, briefings, late nights and personal dilemmas whilst discovering that working so close to where she grew up can have its drawbacks.
Once again set against the backdrop of Sydney, but this time in the grips of its chilly late autumn, Karen ensures that Lexie has plenty of suspects to keep her busy as she challenges her readers to figure it out before Lexie does.
For Lexie, she’s faced with the body of a young woman, who appears to have committed suicide, clutching a rose. There’s definitely a problem with the scene – it’s far too neat – but she can’t immediately put her finger on it, until she discovers both a puncture wound in the girl’s neck and a familiar tattoo that jogs her memory and links the dead girl to her ex-husband Zack who is now a paramedic at the hospital.
When she’s given the lead on the case it presents her with an opportunity to not only prove herself but also as a means of losing herself in work in the hope that she can forget about Josh Harrison.
Meanwhile, in Bali, Josh continues to wallow in self-pity and emotional turmoil following the suicide of his sister, Jenna. But, his hiatus and continued abuse of his favourite vice may just come to an abrupt end when he receives a call from Brad with new information that their investigation has uncovered and a request that he still feels somewhat raw about agreeing to.
Thanks to Karen’s criminal investigation background, she gives us a wholly believable picture of Sydney and its seamier side through the eyes of her protagonist who clearly knows it well. She mixes believable crime, mystery and suspense along with Lexie’s personal angst, making her a convincing heroine who is vulnerable and, just like us, flawed, giving us a three-dimensional character who shows us that these aspects are just as important as the cases she works on – after all, we are all human and shouldn’t expect our characters to be any less.
Karen also continues to build Lexie’s character by showing us a woman who is thorough when it comes to her job, obsessed with punctuality and has an amazing gut instinct which serves her well in her chosen profession while her distaste for morgues and hospitals goes deeper and becomes more apparent.
Her relationship with Brad is one based on mutual trust and respect and, while we discover that he has a bit of a soft side, we also begin to see what makes him tick. For one, he appears to be somewhat of a “boob man”, he loves his food and gets freaked out by anything remotely supernatural, which sometimes includes Lexie’s “excellent” gut instinct. The easy repartee between him and Lexie also brings with it just the right dose of humour and light-heartedness, as they enjoy stirring each other up, in what can at times prove to be difficult circumstances.
Then there’s Josh and the other secondary characters that we got to know in Sinister Intent such as Batman, the sexy “ladies’ man” who is now intent on obtaining more than just Lexie’s professional interest in him seeing that Josh is no longer on the scene and Dani, Lexie’s best friend who could be in just as much danger as her. This time around, Karen allows them to play slightly bigger roles, introducing us to Zack, with Rex Donaldson, too, making a re-appearance. Although Rex remains somewhat on the periphery, it is clear that he and Lexie have the utmost respect for one another and share an unspoken understanding.
This is a satisfying, well-structured read with a tight plot that twists and turns as Karen throws in enough red herrings along the way to keep us guessing, with our heroine giving us insight into the inner workings of our criminal justice system whilst negotiating those of her personal life. And, for those readers who enjoy their crime novels with emotional angst and some spicy romance, like this reviewer does, Karen balances it out well.
While it is the second in the series, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to read Sinister Intent, as Karen does well by allowing for a fair amount of backstory that won’t leave you feeling confused. However, if you’d like to learn more about the circumstances that brought all these great characters together, you’d do well to read them in order.
I can’t recommend this series highly enough and I do believe that Karen Davis is an emerging author to keep on your list as I have no doubt that she will continue to rise up amongst the ranks of Australian crime fiction. I, for one, cannot wait to read her next offering, but will have to content myself for now with my memories as I suffer severe Lexie Rogers withdrawal!
I wish to thank Simon & Schuster for providing me with a hard copy of this novel. 
A Little About the Author
Karen Davis was a New South Wales police officer for twenty years. Completing her training at the police academy in 1987, Karen started her career on the streets of Newtown.  She then moved on to work as a detective and undercover operative in a variety of sections, all of which specialised in the investigation of organised crime.

When Karen left the force six years ago her mother (author of twelve novels, the late Lynne Wilding) encouraged her to write about her experiences.

Her first fictional crime novel Sinister Intent was released in August 2013. Deadly Obsession was published in August 2014.

And for those of you not quite convinced, here’s a preview of what you can expect from Deadly Obsession:

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