Dead Certain

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Collis Raeburn is Australia’s most impressive contribution to the world of opera. His apparent suicide at the peak of his career is thus a profound shock to the nation. Unbeknown to Raeburn’s devoted following, his autopsy reveals that Raeburn was HIV-positive. In light of that revelation, the Sidney Police Department is quick to conclude that Raeburn took his own life in preference to waiting for the inevitable and fatal onset of AIDS.

Detective Inspector Carol Ashton, however, remains unconvinced; she believes that Raeburn was murdered. As her investigation proceeds, Inspector Ashton learns that any attempt to find the murderer will be dangerous. It’s not simply that her life is in danger—she could accept that fact with equanimity—but rather that her personal life will become an object of public scrutiny.

Ashton is not pleased with this turn of events—few people wish to have their private life become thoroughly public—but her commitment to the truth overrides all other considerations. Therefore, with the able assistance of her colleagues, Ashton systematically eliminates a variety of suspects until the malefactors are unmasked.

DEAD CERTAIN is the fifth novel in a continuing series about the trials and tribulations of Detective Inspector Carol Ashton. Once again, Claire McNab explores the difficulties of a woman attempting to survive in a profession traditionally not hospitable to her gender.

Moreover, as in previous volumes in the series, McNab explores the essential question of how a public servant can possibly maintain a private life separate from the demands of a professional career.