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Good Reads Review: Judgement Day by Mali Waugh

If you are a fan of crime drama, especially procedural, you are going to enjoy Judgement Day a lot.

This book was provided courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia, with an accompanying interview with Mali Waugh featured on the literary podcast Date With A Debut in April 2023. I have not received any rewards or compensation for this review and therefore all views and opinions are of my own, the reviewer.

Mild spoilers below. 

There are few things more enticing than a good murder mystery, but few examine the challenges of examining a murder within the ranks of the justice system itself. In that regard, Mali Waugh’s Judgement Day immediately sticks out in a growing list of exciting Australian crime writers.

Set within and around the family law courts of Melbourne, when judge Kaye Bailey, set to take over the role of chief justice is found murdered in her chambers, Detective Jillian Basset is called in to investigate, teaming up with Seargent John McClintok to track down the killer.

Jillian is struggling with many challenges, having come off maternity leave and struggling heavily with being a mother, a situation that sees her partner Aaron shouldering much of the parental responsibilities. She is a fantastic character for this story, filled with self-doubt but also a burning desire to work - especially which comes through in many of the challenges faced as a women in the force.

The attention to detail around the procedural work is really impressive, with Waugh’s clear background in law shining through. You understand this world, how things work, the egoes, and also consequently, the challenges faced when you try to uncover more. This book has a lot to saw about the law system at large.

As a consequence however, the first section of this book can feel a bit drawn out, with many names flying around. Especially with such a brilliant opening prologue where we experience the victim’s final moments, this section can feel somewhat directionless as we deal with details, meet new characters, and go back to multiple settings. Both Jillian and McClintok do take time to gel - and there are times where they do not like each other.

However, the second part two kicks in, the book immediately picks up steam. It is helped by the subplot of Jillian’s struggles with motherhood also reaching a point of crisis - which grounds the story brilliantly and sells the significance of this case to Jillian. To keep it spoiler free, the final reveal really highlights how strong a detective she is, with the result shining through brilliantly. 

If you are a fan of crime drama, especially procedural, you are going to enjoy Judgement Day a lot. Waugh is a writer to watch with her great mind for detail and a very loaded case to unwrap - and while the wealth of information can be overloading at points, I came away from this book very rewarded.


Date With A Debut Podcast episode with Mali Waugh: 


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