When I learned Dead Heat by Australian author Peter Cotton was set in and around Jervis Bay and an AFP Detective would be liaising with a senior intelligence officer from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), I was hooked. Most readers here won't know this, but I served in the RAN and attended many courses at the 'nearby naval base' HMAS Creswell mentioned in the blurb. Naturally I thought this book would be an awesome cross-over between my love of books and Australian crime writing and my own personal history.
Unfortunately it contained far too many inaccuracies and inconsistencies and was a disappointing read for me. Here are some examples.
A Commander on Page 52 is described as having 'four gold stripes on each shoulder' and wearing 'five lines of ribbons on the right side of his chest.'
It's clear to me the author hasn't done enough research. Firstly, a quick online search would have shown the author - and the proofreader or editor - that a Commander has three stripes and a Captain has four. Secondly, medals and ribbons are worn on the left side of the chest, not the right. Furthermore, Australians don't have rows or lines of ribbons, that'd be the Americans.
If that wasn't enough, our main character calls him Captain on the very next page. Argh! There were also several inaccuracies surrounding the landscape and terrain of the area.
Unfortunately, these errors continue all the way through the novel. A sailor mentioned on page 140 is called Sergeant on page 151. What the hell? Now we're confusing the Army and the Navy? Here's another tip: a Lieutenant going about his daily duties would not be 'dripping in gold braid' on page 227.
I'm of the firm opinion that this author would benefit from reading a couple of novels by fellow Aussie writer Matthew Reilly who is able to write the kind of fast-moving action scenes and military interactions Cotton seems to be striving for here.
The setting at Jervis Bay is what originally drew me to this book. The plethora of elements in the plot, including: aboriginal land rights, unrest in Indonesia, bikie gangs in the desert, nuclear weapons, Navy, AFP and spooks were just excessive and didn't gel together.
It's always a pleasure to read a new-to-me Australian author, but sadly Dead Heat fell short for me. Dead Heat is the second in the Detective Darren Glass series and it can easily be read as a stand alone.
My rating = *