Fatal Impact by Kathryn Fox

Author: Kathryn Fox
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
ISBN: 9781742612324
Review By: Ruth Wykes
Book Synopsis: Dr Anya Crichton is a forensic pathologist, and is the main character in all of Kathryn Fox’s seven crime novels. Regular readers will be familiar with Fox’s taut, fast-paced stories and will have come to know Crichton as a strong, independent woman who is professionally brilliant, but who struggles with her personal circumstances.

Fatal Impact is set in Tasmania. It opens with Crichton delivering a conference paper about violence against women and children, and the information is disturbing. The story, however, is about genetically modified food and the crimes and corruption that take place to protect its dominance in the corporate world.

In real life there are no GMO farms in Tasmania, and this may be part of the reason for the location of the story. I loved it that Anya Crichton was let loose on the Apple Isle. As a voracious reader of crime fiction, I always look out for new locations in order to learn more about them –and to feel like I am there myself.

I got the sense, while reading this, that Kathryn Fox feels strongly about the threat posed to the world by GM food, and wanted to highlight the issues. It’s a tough ask. For readers who love their serial killers to be nasty, or their protagonists to be super sleuths, and the crimes to be gory, they may struggle a little with Fatal Impact. This is a story that asks you to think, and a story which, I suspect, is frighteningly close to the truth. Big corporations are willing to go to any length to protect their business and their boundless profits. They don’t let something as irrelevant as the law to stop them from achieving their aims.

There are several subplots interwoven throughout the story. By far the most complex is Dr Crichton’s mother who has a central role in Fatal Impact. I loved their relationship, which was difficult, and the unfolding story about the mother. There are multiple characters in this story, and there were times I didn’t feel I got to know them well enough, a few times I felt confused, but for the most part their relevance to the story was intriguing.

Fatal Impact is a fast-paced, intense story. I couldn’t put it down, and I found the information about genetically modified food to be as disturbing as it was offensive. I learned a lot, and I was inspired to spend more time –after I finished the book –researching GM food and seeds. This is not a classic crime novel, so if you’re expecting the forensic pathologist to stumble across a murder or two, and be required to use her skills to find the forensic needle in a haystack, you may be disappointed. Don’t let it put you off though. Kathryn Fox is an Australian writer at the top of her game, and Fatal Impact is frightening.