Review: ‘Every Breath’ by Ellie Marney

Every Breath

Rachel Watts is an unwilling new arrival to Melbourne from the country. James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old genius with a passion for forensics. Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. And when Watts and Mycroft follow a trail to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den — literally.

A night at the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…

A lot of people had recommended this book to me but, despite that, I probably never would have picked it up because it’s a murder mystery and that’s not my usual thing. However, I’m doing a couple of reading challenges this year — the Australian Women Writers challenge and one that’s Australian writers across different genres — so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and read Every Breath as my mystery installment.

I’m glad I did, and here are some of the reasons why:

* The characters are inspired by Sherlock Holmes without it actually being a retelling. Mycroft is a bit like Sherlock, but has his differences (I don’t think Sherlock was as good at making friends with strangers, and he wasn’t as insecure as Mycroft — though it’s been over a decade since I read any of the stories). Watts keeps Mycroft grounded — and fed — but has her own issues.

* I say “knowingly inspired” because they are aware of the connection their names suggest and make the occasional Sherlock Holmes joke, without it being overbearing. I actually really enjoyed that touch; I expected it to be a retelling, with the parallels unacknowledged by the characters, sort of an in joke between the author and reader. The fact the characters were in on the joke was awesome.

* I loved the characters, especially Mycroft and Watts, but also Mai, their Vietnamese friend, with her alternative dress code and occasionally hilarious t-shirts. I don’t think Mai owns a single plain t-shirt, which I can relate to!

* The plot is zippy and the murder mystery interesting. I did pick the murderer from their first scene, but that may just be because I’ve watched too many TV crime shows. 😉

* The romance subplot is obvious from the start, but doesn’t hog the limelight. The fact Mycroft and Watts started out as friends was great to see, but I also liked the fact that once they realised they liked each other, there wasn’t too much wailing and angst. They just got on with the kissing.

* The family dynamics are interesting. Watts’s parents are semi-present (as is traditional in YA) due to them being shiftworkers, but they do come together when they realise something is going on. Her brother, Mike, is more present than they are, and provides some familial guidance. (Mycroft on the other hand … the poor boy. I wanted to take him in and feed him.)

* It’s Australian! Obviously I knew this going in, given that’s why I picked it up, but it is so Australian, without straying into the stereotypical Crocodile Dundee drawl so few of us actually use. (There were “cuppas” and “uni”, but not “sheila” and “cobber”, if you know what I’m saying.)

The main thing I didn’t like about the book was actually the blurb. (Did “a night at the zoo” have some special meaning I wasn’t aware of? Also, why mention the lions? Why not leave that to be a surprise?!) I am also not a huge fan of the cover, although I don’t hate it.

Summary: Ellie Marney has game, and I’ll definitely read the next book to see what happens next.

Five stars

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