Three weeks after Cyclone Yasi swept through Far North Queensland, a woman is found tied to a tree in the Kuranda rainforest, her limbs bound by silk Hermes scarves, her body battered by the storm. The disappearance of a woman like this, clad in red-soled Louboutin shoes and the finest French clothes, would surely be noticed, but detective Cass Diamond can’t find anyone who matches the description. However, Cass soon finds a lead that connects the woman to Cairns’ close-knit medical community and the secrets threaten their antiquated loyalties. This is a strong crime-fiction debut from writer and doctor Caroline de Costa, set in a lush tropical environment full of rainforests, snakes and sunburst skies. Cass is a revelation: tough yet charming, she is as capable of chasing down an offender (which she does) as she is at endearing herself to the reader (which she will). One of the pleasures of this novel is that de Costa is unafraid to spend time with the characters and the landscape, and Double Madness benefits from this soaking in. While never brutal or bloodthirsty, it nonetheless feels heavy with danger.
Fiona Hardy is a bookseller at Readings Carlton and a committee member of the Australian Crime Writers Association