Affirm Press, $32.99 pb, 415 pp
The Tribute begins with a corpse. And not just any corpse. This body is discovered in a Sydney terrace house with its organs removed. One detective describes the crime as ‘butchery’, and that’s an understatement. This murder is the work of Stephen Porter, a deceptively bland chap who uses his bank job to secure the schedules and addresses of victims. These victims are then dissected as ‘tributes’ to the Fabrica, a collection of sixteenth-century anatomy books.
The crimes are investigated by David Murphy, a boozy detective who is haunted by the mysterious death of his father (also a policeman) years earlier. The action gathers pace when Murphy engages his art historian sister, Joanna, to assist in the investigation. Joanna is familiar with the Fabrica, and her employer thinks that her participation in the case will be an excellent bit of knowledge transfer. Murphy also involves his wife, Sylvia, in the hunt for the enigmatic executioner. Suddenly, several lives are in great jeopardy, and the question of who the actual bad guy is becomes unsettlingly opaque.