This is Geoffrey McGeachin's third novel in the Charlie Berlin series. The first two, The Diggers Rest Hotel and Blackwattle Creek, won the Australian Crime Writers Association Ned Kelly Award for fiction in 2011 and 2013.
The novel is set in 1967 when Detective Sergeant Charlie Berlin is asked to investigate the disappearance of the young daughter of a property developer. She was the latest of nine girls who had disappeared during the previous six months. Charlie Berlin had started investigating the first three disappearances but had then been removed from Missing Persons to the Fraud department. Accompanied by a former protege, Bob Roberts, he is asked to unofficially investigate the latest disappearance though an official investigation would still be carried out by another team. There is also tension in the police force as an investigation into police corruption is being undertaken.
In the first part of the book, two parallel stories are told - the investigation of the missing girls as undertaken by Charlie Berlin and the account of the early life of a young English boy who is sent to Australia as a child and his development into a killer. The later chapters concentrate on the investigation.
When interviewing the father of the latest missing girl, Charlie Berlin notices a similarity with a German SS officer he had observed murdering a young woman during the Second World War. This forces Charlie Berlin to investigate and confront demons from his past. The book also investigates loss of a loved one, especially the loss of a daughter.
Another well crafted crime novel, set primarily in Melbourne, has been written by Geoffrey McGeachin.