Home-grown thriller in Freo

• Alan Carter. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

LIFE emulates art and there’s blood on Fremantle streets in the latest Cato Kwong book Heaven Sent.

Alan Carter started writing the book a few years ago, but got sidetracked after moving from South Freo to New Zealand, where he was inspired to write Marlborough Man instead.

As he returned to finishing Heaven Sent, reports of homeless people being murdered in Freo were making the papers, and it seeped into Carter’s prose.

“I used crime to look at society and what is behind homelessness,” he says.

“We are a very affluent society, particularly in WA, but the gap between the haves and have-nots is getting wider.”

Detective Philip “Cato” Kwong lives in Beaconsfield, is based at the cop shop on High Street, and loves eating Pho at Cafe 55 over the road.

The first dead body in Heaven Sent is found behind the Carriage Cafe on the Esplanade, where I’d arranged to meet the author, unaware of the macabre connection.

An earlier murder takes place near B-Shed on Victoria Quay, and another in a bus shelter on Marine Terrace, near the Sailing Club.

Readers familiar with the port city will enjoy name-checking locations as the killer stalks his victims.

Heaven Sent is classic seat-of-your-pants reading, as Cato tracks the killer as far south as Hopetoun.

But there’s touching themes woven into the fast-paced action, as characters deal with divorce, broken families and the rise in homelessness.

Carter says Fremantle’s gentrification and the closure of its hospital’s emergency department has put pressure on those at the bottom of the rung.

“Emergency was a kind of place of refuge for people on the street, where they could just walk in; now they are more reliant on the Street Doctor and St Pat’s, which don’t get funding to take up the slack.”

Carter says crime fiction is popular again because people need reassurance in an increasingly volatile world.

“It offers a kind of resolution. Justice prevails. It’s not like that in real life.”

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