FINDING an intelligent, attractive, available man in Melbourne isn’t easy, as crime-scene-investigator-turned-milliner Catherine Kint well knows. Finding an intelligent, attractive, available man who won’t, the morning after their first night together, allow himself to be mauled by a pack of African wild dogs is even harder.
Just when hatmaker extraordinaire and now-unofficial sleuth Catherine’s luck seems to have taken a turn for the better, brand-new love interest Beau Hacska is dragged barely alive from an enclosure at Melbourne Zoo, where he works as a keeper.
It’s not the first time Beau has had an unfortunate up-close encounter with wildlife of the open-plains variety; his primary claim to international infamy is as the man whose head was once buried inside an elephant.
Before having his run-in with the dogs Beau had enlisted Catherine to look into a sudden death at the zoo in a bid to clear himself of alleged culpability. With Beau now immobilised in hospital she turns to her best friend and favourite gin-pouring barman, Boris Shakhovsky, for backup.
The pair have already had considerable crime-solving success together, having woven their way through the alleyways of Brunswick in the interests of apprehending a murderer in local author Hugh McGinlay’s first novel, Jinx.
The plot of Pachyderm, McGinlay’s follow-up, is equally intriguing in characteristically off-beat, irreverent style. Believably flawed characters, cosily familiar inner-city locations and sassy, tongue-in-cheek, boisterous wit keep the chapters humming along to a satisfying and unexpected conclusion.
Catherine, Boris and Beau share centre stage with an eclectic cast: a slightly doddery visiting British documentary-maker and naturalist, a detestable bully with a prominent role in state politics, a bothersome millinery client who senses trouble before it strikes, a female laundromat customer with a penchant for pink-dyed men’s clothing, a flirty stranger who whistles openly on a train, and meerkats, lions and reptiles aplenty.