’TIS the season for impractical headwear so it seems appropriate that the fictitious heroine of homegrown Melbourne novel Jinx should be a milliner.
One-time police investigator Catherine Kint – burned out by constant job pressure and now working to rebuild herself through a change of pace – is busy in her new career with client orders for the Spring Racing Carnival when her attention is diverted by a murder committed unnervingly close to home. The implication of trusted friend Melissa Zamansky as the only suspect leaves Kint with few options: in the interests of seeing justice served, she downs her hat-making tools immediately and goes in search of the model-like real-estate agent’s true killer.
Set on and around Sydney Road in suburban Brunswick, Jinx weaves elements of witchcraft, voodoo and the occult together with mainstream 21st-century Gen X living in a location that will be familiar to any Victorian who has visited Melbourne Zoo or Princess Park.
Can Kint – sleuthing along the local laneways between all-night Google searches with IT virtuoso Nealander Singh and all-day gin sessions with best mate Boris Shakhovsky – assemble sufficient evidence to both exonerate Zamansky and identify the actual culprit before any further deaths occur? With time already against her Kint finds her task complicated further by the presence of attractive New Age spiritualist Asher Marr – the victim’s long-term boyfriend – and his glowering, physically aggressive brother Shiloh. Could the twitchy, threatening, plainer Marr have been behind the young woman’s gruesome throat-slashing, carried out in an alley dressed with Wiccan symbols on a solstice?
Believable (if decidedly unconventional) characters, a rapid pace and unpredictable plot twists combine to make Jinx an entertaining few hours’ escapism from day-to-day reality and a glimpse into the eclectic, bohemian world of Melbourne’s inner north.
That Jinx has been produced locally is a bonus.