Dinuka McKenzie – Tipping Point

HarperCollinsPublishers, Australia, 2023
Cover design HarperCollins Design Studio
Cover images shutterstock.com

It is difficult to put a DInuka McKenzie down once started, and Tipping Point, her third Detective Kate Miles crime fiction, is no exception.

Barbie spoke to Dinuka McKenzie about Tipping Point

What makes Kate such an attractive heroine is, I think, the fact that she is so very human, grappling with the day-to-day vicissitudes of family life whilst juggling it with her career as an excellent and committed police officer. Not all of us engage daily with hardened criminals but achieving the work-life balance is nevertheless the lot of most ‘working parents’.

While the point is not laboured, it is always on our minds and this mundanity gives us fellow feeling.

Family matters are important in all three of these Kate Miles books and in this one it is the issue of sibling relationships that predominates. Dual plots involving Kate’s brother Luke, cleverly interwoven and tantalisingly eked out, carry us through the crime investigations central to the story – two deaths quickly follow one another, both of them childhood friends of Luke.

Kate becomes involved professionally because Luke has returned home after a dismissal from his city job and he soon becomes a person of interest to the Esserton police. Conflict of interest soon disqualifies Kate from leading the investigation but she is compelled to do her own sleuthing because of her brother’s involvement but also because she is cop through and through and this is what she does.

Themes of sexual abuse and misconduct bind the various plots of this story, the exercise of power and choice. The questions are moral ones: How culpable are we when we remain silent? How much can family ties influence our tolerance for bad behaviour? What are the limits of blood loyalty? Are we responsible for the long term trauma of others?

While everything is not perfect in Kate’s policing world, we are ever conscious of the toll this work has on individuals and their families. No matter our systemic failures and human frailties, there is clear regard for those who do the work of keeping us safe.

Tipping Point is a strongly feminist work, not of the shouty kind but rather a persistent reminder that human relationships are complex but that the simplicity of respect and love for others works for the good of all.

A tipping point can be reached when a person is pushed beyond his or her individual capacity to cope, and this can have dire consequences well beyond a simple act of vengeance or reprisal. To be adult is to throw over the irresponsibility of youthful indiscretion, to be human is to acknowledge one’s responsibility to others.

There’s something Dostoyevskyan (The Brothers Karamazov) here, the notion of our responsibility for the sins of others and the change of consciousness that results from accepting this.

But all moral musing aside, this is also a ripping read that demands your attention to the end. It’s another cleverly constructed and well written work from this accomplished young author whose command of the crime genre is unquestionable. We hope it’s not Kate’s last stand.

Thank you to HarperCollinsPublishers for my review copy and to Dinuka for, as always, a lively and enjoyable chat about this book and its many contemporary matters of importance.