Wit and pathos – The Half-Child by Angela Savage

I haven’t read any Angela Savage books before. Had I known  The Half-Child was part of a series, I’d have opted to start with the first book, rather than join the adventures of Jayne Keeney, private detective, after they’d begun. Right from the start, however, I enjoyed the Thai setting of this novel and was intrigued by the mystery Savage presents. As I read on, I discovered more and more to like.

Although I’ve been a fan of both conspiracy stories and detective stories for light reading, I can usually take or leave ones with the degree of humour I found in Savage’s story. Alexander McCall Smith’s The Number One Ladies Detective Agency Volume 6 has never appealed to me to pick up and read, even though I enjoyed hearing excerpts on the radio. And while I enjoyed the ABC’s Phryne Fisher detective series, I haven’t raced out to read Kerry Greenwood’s witty Aussie historical detective novels, either. As I read The Half-Child, however, I warmed to its humour, especially as it plays out in Savage’s depiction of the protagonist Jayne’s relationship with her Indian offsider, Rajiv.

While Savage’s insights into the seedier side of touristic Thailand give rise to indulgent laughter, there is also a fair degree of pathos in the tragic plight of some of the sex workers. Flashes of political comment and insights in regard to inter-race relations, inter-country adoptions and the attitude of Australians to Asian immigrants in the 1990s are also woven through the narrative. The story held my interest till the end, the twists, as well as the characters and their relationships, avoiding cliche.

I’d recommend this book to readers who enjoy tom-boy Aussie female ‘anti-hero’ protagonists, quirky humour and exotic settings, and who don’t mind their detective stories giving them something more to think about than your average mystery.

Note: This review appeared first in a modified version on GoodReads earlier this year. It fulfilled part of my AWW challenge and is Book 5 for my Aussie Authors Challenge.

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  1. I have had my eye on this series from Angela Savage for some time. The protagonist sounds very interesting and the humor right up my alley. Thanks for reminding me!


    • I’m glad the review has inspired you to seek it out again, Jo. I’ll be very interested to know what you think of it, too. I’m sure I’ll be reading more of the series – though I do suggest you start at the beginning.


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