by Vikki Petraitis
Allen and Unwin
Warning: This review contains mentions of sexual assault
Lead Detective Antigone Pollard was set to move away from Melbourne after the tragic ramifications of her latest case. Gemma Watson had come to see her after she was sexually assaulted, but the “tall guy with the handsome face, condescending lawyers and passionate wealthy parents” got away with it.
Another victim of the case had severed her relationship with another detective ten years her senior, so Antigone decided to take up an assignment in Deception Bay where she grew up. Unfortunately, “running away from a problem doesn’t mean it can’t follow you into shards of memories and nightmares.”
Deception Bay’s latest crime wave consisted of a group of teenagers smashing through mailboxes, but while the deceptive coastal waters are calm on the surface, that doesn’t mean there weren’t jagged rocks and dangerous below.
It wasn’t long before Antigone was targeted at the local pub, having her drink stolen and attacked in the parking lot. It turned out that there had been a wave of women being sexually assaulted after drinking in pubs in the area, but nothing had been done about it.
Vikki Petraitis is known for her true crime books, including The Frankston Murdersand his expertise lies in interviewing police and victims to create successful stories. The incredulous has just won the A&U Crime Fiction Prize among 340 manuscripts submitted to the competition.
In his crime fiction, Petraitis reports that in one year, 4,300 victims in Victoria said they had been sexually assaulted and 41 offenders were imprisoned as a result. A Google search shows that in Australia around 1.5% of sexual assault cases end in a conviction and only 20% of sexual assault cases are actually reported.
When eighteen-year-old Meg Mulligan is found wandering along the road – dazed, drugged and probably sexually assaulted, with her white dress spattered with blood after being pushed out of a car, Antigone remembers Gemma and the system that let her down.
With her ex-police dog Waffles to protect her, Antigone is brave and dedicated to exposing secrets, confronting lies entrenched in the small town, and connecting all the evidence. Unfortunately, like in real life, the bad guys don’t always get caught, and what happens when the courts don’t do their job?
The incredulous is a real page-turner with some unexpected twists. As Petraitis says, “It was a refreshing change to seek justice in the pages of fiction, because in real life it’s much harder to find.”