Glamorous fantasy thriller

Title: Assassin

Author: Tara Moss

THRILLERS are a guilty pleasure - a bit like those small tubs of expensive ice-cream - tasty, naughty and easy to consume in one sitting.

Assassin is the sixth book in Tara Moss's series featuring Makedde (Mak) Vanderwall, former Canadian model turned forensic psychologist and private investigator, but you don't need to have read the first five to enjoy it.

This is an honest rip-roaring adventure that lets you know what you're in for from the first killer sentence: "It's illuminating to know what you're worth dead."

Moss - also a Canadian-born ex-model - meticulously researches her novels, to the extent of putting herself in physical danger, including being choked to the point of passing out for one of her previous books and earning a qualification as a private investigator with the Australian Security Academy. The research pays off, giving a kind of authenticity that is frequently lacking in the thriller genre.

That is not to say Assassin is a true-to-life story. It is an unashamed fiction of a make-believe, glamorous fantasy world with larger-than-

even-possible-for-Sydney crims, international hitmen and impossibly smart investigators.

The other aspect that stands out is Moss's obvious affection for her characters - she doesn't aim for perfection but creates them with such depth and care that it's passed on to the reader.

I'm a sucker for an Australian-based crime novel and Assassin delivers better than many. Moss drops the odd cliché but sets such a blistering pace and plot that it can be forgiven - and, although the hoary chestnut says not to judge a book by its cover, an exception to the rule is when the cover features a woman wearing tight leather pants and holding a hand gun.

Assassin delivers everything a good thriller should: suspense, violence, intrigue, revenge and a couple of chases.

It's an enjoyable book that doesn't ask to be taken too seriously but to simply jump aboard and hang on for the ride.

There's enough sexual tension and ethical questions to make Assassin stand out from the huge pile of airport potboilers and a decent sub-plot to keep you guessing.

Moss is a fine writer with a deep affection for her craft that shines through her work - you can tell she had a good time writing and it makes for a good time reading.

Books reviewed are available from The Book Warehouse in Lismore.

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