Malicious Intent

Malicious Intent

3.9 8
by Kathryn Fox

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A gripping and powerful new thriller — the debut of a stunning new voice in suspense fiction — and the first appearance of a tough and remarkable investigator, pathologist, and forensic physician, Dr. Anya Crichton.

The only female freelancer in the male-dominated field, pathologist Dr. Anya Crichton will take any work

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A gripping and powerful new thriller — the debut of a stunning new voice in suspense fiction — and the first appearance of a tough and remarkable investigator, pathologist, and forensic physician, Dr. Anya Crichton.

The only female freelancer in the male-dominated field, pathologist Dr. Anya Crichton will take any work she can find to pay child support and her mortgage, get her new business off the ground, and battle her ex-husband for custody of their three-year-old son. Things turn around rapidly, however, when her expert forensic evidence is instrumental in winning a high-profile case — and new work offers start pouring in.

But Anya's investigation into the drug overdose of a young Lebanese girl is raising troubling questions. Startling coincidences between this sad and tragic death and a series of seemingly unrelated suicides that Anya is also examining at the urging of her friend and colleague, detective sergeant Kate Farrer, suggest that there's a monumental evil at work in the shadows. With each scalpel cut, Anya Crichton's forensic prowess and deductive brilliance are pulling her relentlessly toward a sinister plot and a devastating truth — and once she enters the lethal darkness, she may never again see the light of day.

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Editorial Reviews

Philippa Stockley
Oddball but brilliant, Malicious Intent by first-time Australian author Kathryn Fox is set in the world of forensic medicine. Fox's tough protagonist, Anya Crichton, works as a freelance forensic scientist. A divorced mother with a young son she adores, Crichton finds herself trying to solve a spate of what appear to be suicides and an honor-killing. She soon believes they are really serial murders. The author is a doctor, and there is a lot of medical knowledge on display in this daring story.
— The Washington Post

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Kathryn Fox is a medical practitioner with a special interest in forensic medicine. Her bestselling debut novel, Malicious Intent, received international acclaim and was awarded the Davitt Award for adult fiction. Kathryn currently lives in Sydney, Australia.

Read an Excerpt

Malicious Intent

A Novel
By Kathryn Fox

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Kathryn Fox
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060857951

Chapter One

Dr. Anya Crichton sat in the witness box and surveyed the room. Her gaze quickly found the teenager in the dock. Scott Barker sat, round-shouldered and eyes downcast. The university student was like any other, except for two things. His family was one of the most prominent in the state, but more importantly, Scott was on trial for murder.

Judge Little took command. 'Please proceed, Mr. Brody.'

Anya concentrated on Dan Brody. The lawyer seemed more impressive in court than he did on any of his television appearances.

'Thank you, Your Honor.' Smiling, Brody stood from behind the table, rising to his full six feet four inches. 'Could you please state your name and qualifications for the jury?'

'Anya Rose Crichton.' Her voice remained even. Controlled breathing always helped. 'I am a medical practitioner, with specialist qualifications in forensic pathology and forensic medicine.'

'For the benefit of the jury, Doctor, could you explain what your job entails?'

'As a forensic pathologist, I have conducted thousands of postmortems to establish cause of death. As a forensic physician, I assess wounds and injuries of people who have been assaulted or involved in an assault and survived.'

'Could youplease tell the court where you gained your experience?'

'After completing my medical degree at the University of Newcastle -- '

'Yes, yes, Your Honor,' interjected the prosecutor from his seat. 'There is no issue as to the expertise of this witness.' Alistair Fraser sat shrouded in black silks, hands on his paunch.

Anya's back straightened. Fraser was already on rough footing. He had no intention of letting the jury hear the breadth of her experience and qualifications, her work at the State Forensic Institute or two years in England specializing in wound analysis.

Brody placed both hands firmly on the lectern and addressed his witness. 'Doctor, could you please describe the circumstances under which you came to meet the defendant?'

'I was called by the family's lawyer to examine Scott Barker on the twelfth of December. He was in hospital for injuries following an alleged assault. I documented Scott's wounds in case of permanent injury and/or further police investigation.'

'And what did you find?'

'Scott Barker was in the emergency department with a series of wounds to his arms, hands and fingers. The incisions were deep and extensive. One particular injury severed the web between the base of his right thumb and index finger, as well as tendons in the right hand.'

Brody tendered photographs of Scott's injuries to be shown later to the jury.

'And, Doctor, in your opinion, how were these wounds inflicted?'

'They are classic defense injuries.'

'Could you please explain what you mean?' Brody asked.

Looking to the jury, Anya carefully chose her words. 'These wounds result from attempts to ward off someone brandishing a sharp weapon. The victim instinctively raises his hands and forearms to protect his eyes, face and head.' Lifting her arms to demonstrate, she glanced at the twelve jurors. Three took notes, the others sat forward in their seats. 'In the process, the victim sustains the characteristic deep incisions to those areas.' She paused. 'Exactly like the ones Scott suffered on the twelfth of December.'

Seeing Scott triggered vivid memories of that night. The shy youth claimed to be the victim of an unprovoked attack by two drunks outside a pub in Glebe. The attack wasn't difficult to imagine; the forensic evidence supported Scott's version of events. As he walked home from Sydney University, two men stopped him, wanting to know what he had in his bag. In the confrontation, Scott's laptop computer was smashed. When he yelled for someone to call the police, one of the men pulled out a switchblade. In the scuffle, the knife pierced the chest and heart of the larger man, killing him. The dead man had a blood alcohol reading three times the legal limit. The police case rested on the testimony of the second man, who alleged Scott had gone berserk, broken his own computer and attacked the two men.

Brody continued, 'Could you please explain why Scott would have such a deep cut to one palm only?'

'When someone is under attack they'll do anything to defend themselves, even if it seems irrational. That includes grabbing the weapon by the blade. When the hand is closed around the blade, movement by the assailant results in cuts across the flexures of the phalanges, the palm side of the victim's fingers. The blade slices through the skin, tissues and even tendons. In the process of grabbing the knife, Scott suffered permanent damage to that hand.'

Fraser jumped to his feet. 'Objection, Your Honor,' he boomed. 'This is conjecture. The witness was not present and could not know who grabbed what, where or when.'

Judge Little curtly reminded Fraser he had accepted Dr. Crichton as an expert in this field and overruled the objection. The prosecutor flopped into his chair. Anya breathed out, appreciating the minor victory.

'So, Doctor.' Brody put a hand on one hip. 'Scott Barker is accused of cold-blooded murder, but you are saying Scott's wounds suggest that he was, in fact, fighting for his own life.' He paused for maximum effect. 'How likely is it that someone claiming to defend himself against a knife attack could suffer no defense injuries?'

'It would be unlikely.' Anya clasped her hands as Brody prepared the final blow to Fraser's case.

'You reviewed the postmortem report on the deceased?' Brody underlined something in his notes. 'Did the alleged victim, the deceased, sustain any injuries to his arms or hands to suggest he fought off a knife attack?'


'That's all, Doctor.'

A murmur rumbled through the courtroom and in their gallery the press scribbled notes.

Anya's adrenaline surged as she watched the prosecutor haul himself to his feet. She wondered if this was how gladiators felt during combat.

'You say that Scott was the victim, and yet another man died during this incident.' Fraser faced the jury. . . .


Excerpted from Malicious Intent by Kathryn Fox Copyright © 2006 by Kathryn Fox. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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