Book Review: Death on Demand by Paul Thomas
Death on Demand by Paul Thomas
Death on Demand is a page-turning and compelling read, all the more readable as it is set in New Zealand and populated by Kiwi characters that are believable and recognisable. Paul Thomas has won awards for his previous crime novels, as well as popular acclaim, so his new novel has been much anticipated and it has definitely been well worth the wait. Maori cop Tito Ihaka is a wonderful character – he’s a bit overweight and decidedly un-PC – but he has a nose for sniffing out the truth in his cases.
Ihaka is called back to Auckland after five years of enjoying a quieter life in the Wairarapa. An old case calls him back – a case of a hit and run that Ihaka always thought was foul play. It turns out Ihaka was right all along. Christopher Lilywhite is a businessman who is terminally ill who wants to make things right in his life before he dies. He confesses to Ihaka that he hired a hitman to kill his wife – but the catch is, he doesn’t know who the hitman was as it was all set up via phone.
Ihaka soon clashes with the police hierarchy and instead of investigating this cold case he is given another case to work on – a young man who was beaten to death, and later, his sister is beaten to death with the same MO. As Ihaka works the case, he discovers that it appears to be linked to the cold case others are working on.
Death on Demand is a funny and irreverent read, part police procedural, part social commentary – all slightly tongue-in-cheek, but literate and fun. Paul Thomas is a fabulous and original writer. New Zealand crime novels don’t get any better.