Leah Giarrantano






Bantam, July 2007
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

A middle-aged man is found murdered in sand dunes overlooking a public childrenís swimming pool. The later discovery of several more men found in similar circumstances makes it pretty clear that the police are dealing with a killer or killers who are taking the law into their own hands and removing paedophiles from the streets.

Jill Jackson is a sergeant in the New South Wales police. Life is difficult for her at the best of times, but this case brings to the surface childhood memories she has been trying to deal with for over twenty years. Jill herself was the victim of a paedophile after being kidnapped, and has been trying to deal with it ever since. As the investigation progresses, Jill uncovers a long-established paedophile ring with wealthy, powerful men as its members. But are they so well protected that they are untouchable?

Leah Giarratano is a trauma psychologist based in Sydney. Among her clients have been victims of sexual abuse and men serving sentences for child abuse. VODKA DOESNíT FREEZE is her first novel. I had the good fortune to hear Giarratano speak last year. She talked about the book being cathartic for her. She regarded it as an exercise to purge herself of bottled up emotions. She never expected a publisher to accept it.

VODKA DOESNíT FREEZE isnít an easy book, It is a very dark subject Giarratano writes about, a subject that is difficult to explore. However, the reader who can make it through is rewarded. It offers some insights in ways perhaps not expected by the author or the reader. Yes, it does demonstrate how different people deal with being sexually abused, but what I found was that perhaps inadvertently the author has shown something of the emotional toll taken on professionals who deal with sex offenders in their working life.

VODKA DOESN'T FREEZE is a nominee for the 2008 Ned Kelly Awards for Best First Fiction and a deserving one.

June 2008


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