Eden is the second novel by Australian author Candice Fox, who won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut novel in 2014 for Hades, then won the best novel award again in 2015 for Eden. These awards are known as the ‘Neddies’, and are given for Australia’s best crime writing.*
Eden Archer is a police officer. She is a psychopath, although this is never spelled out. While off-duty, Eden dispenses her own justice to killers and enjoys every moment of it. For reasons of her own she only kills bad people while she is off-duty. Hades, of Candice Fox’s first novel of the same name, is Eden’s father.
The story is told in turns by Eden’s partner, Detective Frank Bennet in the first person, and by two other omniscient narrators who swap between Eden’s present and Hades’ past.
In the current story, Eden and Frank are looking for a killer in Sydney who has been murdering young women. The murders may or may not be connected to a spate of videos which depict the rape of women linked to the murder victims. Eden goes undercover, posing as an itinerant woman who would appeal to the murderer as a likely victim, although at no point did I worry about Eden’s safety. She was well able to look after herself.
At the same time, Frank is employed by Eden’s father, Hades, who was a Sydney crime lord before going into semi-retirement, to find out who is watching him. Hades lives at a rubbish tip, where he has for many years disposed of dead bodies, both for himself and for other people. .
When Frank finds out who is watching Hades, another mystery arises, one which Hades says he will pay Frank $100,000 to solve. Frank takes on the work, of which the mystery becomes another story in Eden.
Hades’ past is intriguing, and I wish I had started with Hades, but Eden stood alone. To anyone else planning on reading these books though, start with Hades.
One of the tips I learned from Eden is that when you’ve got a dead body to dispose of, don’t wrap it in an ordinary tarp because, according to Hades, tarps leak, which will leave clues to link you to your crime. His advice is to use plastic drop sheets and wrap the body up like a burrito using proper tape rather than occy straps. (Hey, you never know when something like this will come in handy…)
Eden is not a story for those with weak stomachs or for those who are put off by bad language, nasty people or violent, greedy behaviour. While it wasn’t my usual style of reading though, I enjoyed Eden enormously and look forward to going back and reading Hades. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Candice Fox goes on to win a great many more Neddies.
*Ned Kelly was an Australian bushranger who somehow become a legend. He was a thief and a murderer and was eventually hung for his crimes, but he had a way with words, written and spoken. Supposedly his last words were, “Such is life.”