Category Archives: Donna Malane

I’m Feeling Like a Fool*

We’ve all had the experience, I’ll bet: those cringe-worthy moments that you really hope no-one’s seen. At least, I hope I’m not the only one…  Most of us have those embarrassing moments. If we’re lucky, nobody sees, or, at least, nobody who knows us sees.

Those moments don’t make for the happiest of memories, but they can be effective in crime novels. For one thing, they can lighten up what may be a dark novel. For another, they are very human. So, when a character has one of THOSE moments, we can identify with that character a little.

We don’t often think of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot as having cringe-worthy moments. But even he is not immune. In the short story The Chocolate Box, Poirot recounts to Captain Hastings a case of which he is not particularly proud. During Poirot’s years with the Belgian Police, he investigated the death of French deputy Paul Deroulard, who was living in Belgium. He followed the leads, but, in the end, named the wrong person as killer, and that person was arrested. It wasn’t until the real killer summoned him and explained everything that Poirot really learned the truth about the matter. He still regards this case as one of his failures and asks Hastings to remind him of it if he ever gets too conceited. Of course, that doesn’t take very long, and Hastings reminds Poirot of that cringe-worthy case.

Christopher Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning begins with a cringe-worthy moment for Edinburgh journalist Jack Parlabane. He wakes up with a serious hangover, only to notice that there’s a lot of noise coming from the flat downstairs. So, dressed only in his boxers and a T-shirt, he goes down to try to get whoever’s making all the noise to stop. He’s forgotten, though, that the door of his own flat locks automatically when it closes, so he’s locked out of his home. When he gets to the downstairs flat, he sees that it’s the scene of a brutal murder. As you can imagine, he doesn’t want to mixed up in the case, although his journalist instinct wants information. He’s hoping that he can sneak through a window from the downstairs flat, and crawl through the corresponding window in his own flat. It doesn’t work out that way, though, as he’s seen by Detective Constable (DC) Jenny Dalziel. It’s bad enough that he’s in his underwear. Things get even more difficult when he has to explain what he’s doing at a murder scene…

In one plot thread of Donna Malane’s Surrender, Wellington-based missing person expert Diane Rowe discovers that James Patrick ‘Snow’ Wilson has been murdered. This death is important to her, because, a year earlier, her sister, Niki, was murdered, and everyone has always believed that Snow was guilty. In fact, just before he was killed, Snow admitted he was the killer, and said that someone paid him to do the job. Rowe reasons that, if she can find out who paid Snow, she can also find out who killed her sister. At one point, she happens to be passing by the home that Snow shared with his two sisters and decides to go in and see if she can find any clues. She gets stuck going through a window, but makes it in – only to be stopped cold by a cricket bat. As it happens, Snow’s sisters were at home, and Rowe has found herself in a very cringe-worthy situation. Fortunately for Rowe, Snow’s sisters want to find their brother’s killer as much as Rowe wants to find her sister’s killer. So, they agree to help each other. And it turns out that each proves useful to the other.

Paul Levine’s Solomon vs Lord introduces his protagonists, Miami-area lawyers Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord. When we meet them, they’re on opposite sides of a case. Lord is prosecuting Amancio Pedrosa for illegally smuggling in some of the animals he sells in his shop. Solomon is defending Pedrosa. At one point in the trial, Solomon brings a cockatoo into the courtroom as part of his trial strategy. During the proceedings, the bird flies to Lord, lands on the arm of the expensive suit she’s wearing, and leaves a distinctive token of its visit on her sleeve. As it is, she’s on edge; her boss has just publicly humiliated her, firing her in front of everyone in court. This cringe-worthy moment just makes everything that much worse. Rather than take advantage of Lord’s distress, Solomon has sympathy for her. And the two end up working together on a very lucrative case in which they defend Katrina Barksdale against the charge of murdering her husband.

And then there’s Brad Parks’ Carter Ross, whom we meet in Faces of the Gone. He’s a journalist for the Newark, New Jersey Eagle-Examiner. One morning, his boss sends him to Ludlow Street, where four bodies have been discovered in a vacant lot. The police theory is that a local bar owner had them killed, because one of them robbed his bar, and the others were accomplices. But Ross doesn’t think that’s what happened, and he starts to ask questions. At one point, he makes contact with a local gang that he thinks might have information. The only way they’ll trust him enough to talk to him is if he smokes marijuana with them, so he does. He comes back to the newspaper office later, still under the influence, and he feels lucky that he isn’t fired for it. His colleagues find out about it, and soon, his area is decorated with copies of High Times magazine, pictures of marijuana plants, and more. It’s a cringe-worthy experience for him, but he takes it in good spirit.

And sometimes, that’s what you have to do when you have one of THOSE moments. These are just a few examples from crime fiction. I know you’ll think of more.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Roxette’s Fool.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Brad Parks, Christopher Brookmyre, Donna Malane, Paul Levine

The Children, They Know*

A few days ago, I did a post on fictional interrogations, and the leaven that they can add to a story. When the subject is an adult, there are all sorts of possibilities, depending on what the author wants to achieve, and on the circumstances in the story. An interrogation can be gentle, verbally rough, or more.

Things are quite different when the subject is a child. For one thing, children don’t have an adult’s perspective or knowledge. So, they may have seen something without understanding what it all means. And, they may think they’ll get deeply in trouble for something if they tell what they know, even if they had nothing to do with the crime at hand. There’s also the issue of betrayal. Children may feel that, by telling what they know, they’re betraying a friend or an important adult. And that’s to say nothing of the trauma a child might feel after witnessing a crime. All of this means that interviewing or interrogating a child can be an extremely delicate, and tricky, matter.

In Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun, for instance, Hercule Poirot works with the police to find out who strangled famous actress Arlena Marshall. She was taking a holiday at the Jolly Roger Hotel, with her husband, Captain Kenneth Marshall, and her stepdaughter, Linda Marshall, when she was killed. And, as it turns out, more than one person at the hotel could have murdered her. As a matter of course, the police and Poirot talk to sixteen-year-old Linda. Like most teens, she’s awkward and not comfortable in her own skin, as the saying goes. At first, she says she liked her stepmother, and that Arlena was quite kind. But that’s not exactly how she really feels, and it’s not long before Poirot works out that there are things Linda’s not saying. It’s interesting to see how both he and Colonel Weston (who’s investigating for the police) handle questioning Linda.

Peter Robinson’s first Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Alan Banks novel is Gallows View. In it, we learn that Banks has recently moved with his family from London to the Yorkshire town of Eastvale. And it’s not long before he’s enmeshed in a few cases. One of them is a voyeur who’s been making the lives of Eastvale women miserable. There’s also a series of home invasions. Then, there’s a murder. Mixed up in some of this is Trevor Sharp, a teenager who doesn’t quite fit in. When he starts spending a lot of time with local hoodlum Mick Webster, you can imagine the consequences aren’t going to be exactly happy. Banks and his team talk to Trevor, and it’s interesting to see how he uses a very teenaged mix of bluster and lies to try to stay out of trouble.

Rennie Airth’s River of Darkness introduces Scotland Yard Inspector John Madden. He is called to the small village of Highfield when Colonel Charles Fletcher, his wife, Lucy, their maid, Sally Pepper, and the nanny, Alice Crookes, are found murdered. The only survivor is the Fletchers’ daughter, Sophy. But it’s nearly impossible to talk to her. For one thing, she’s only four years old. For another, she was hiding under a bed at the time of the murder and is coping with a great deal of trauma. In fact, local GP Dr. Helen Blackwell doesn’t want the police talking to Sophy at all. She and Madden clash a bit about this, but he finally accedes to Blackwell’s request that Sophy go away to visit relatives for a time. That doesn’t mean that the child isn’t of any help, though. She communicates in her own way, through art, and it’s interesting to see how the police and Blackwell use what they learn from her.

Garry Disher’s Bitter Wash Road takes place in the rural South Australia town of Tiverton. Constable Paul ‘Hirsch’ Hirschhausen has been transferred there from Adelaide, mostly as a punishment. He’s seen as a ‘whistleblower’ in an internal investigation, so to say the least, he is not popular among his new colleagues. Still, he does the best he can when the body of fifteen-year-old Melia Donovan is found by Bitter Wash Road. As Hirsch tries to trace the victim’s last days and weeks, he learns about her best friend, Gemma Pitcher, who works at the local convenience store. If anyone knows what Melia might have been doing, and with whom, it’ll be Gemma. At first, Gemma does everything she can to avoid Hirsch. But he finally manages to talk to her. It’s not easy, as Gemma doesn’t want to be disloyal, or get herself in trouble. But she eventually tells him what she knows, and it proves to be useful information.

And then there’s Donna Malane’s My Brother’s Keeper. Wellington missing person expert Diane Rowe gets a new client, Karen Mackie. Karen’s recently been released from prison after serving time for the murder of her son, Falcon, and attempted murder of her daughter, Sunny. Now, she wants Diane to find Sunny (who’s now fourteen), whom she hasn’t seen for the seven years she was in prison. Diane makes no promises and warns Karen that she won’t reveal where Sunny is without the girl’s approval. Karen agrees to those terms, and Diane gets to work. Finding Sunny (who’s living with her father, Justin) turns out to be quite straightforward. But then, there’s a not-so-straightforward murder. And it turns out there is much more to this case than it seems on the surface. At one point, there’s an interesting bit, told from Sunny’s perspective, that takes place immediately after the incident in which her brother was killed. She’s seven at this time, and a police officer is asking her about what happened. What’s particularly interesting about this is that we see how a seven-year-old thinks and responds, and how the police adapt their interview/interrogation strategies when the subject is a child.

It’s not an easy thing to do. But it is important if the police are going to get information from child witnesses. These are jus a few examples. I know you’ll think of many more.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Chuck Mangione’s Look to the Children.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Donna Malane, Garry Disher, Peter Robinson, Rennie Airth

Looking at Pictures on Facebook*

The EU and other groups have created several rules and policies that are intended to protect people’s privacy. And it is good for people to know who has what information about them, and how that information is used. But the fact is, plenty of us freely provide information about ourselves without perhaps being aware that that’s what we’re doing. Do you ever order anything online? Then some merchant has your address, records of what you buy, and so on. Do you post reviews on Yelp or other, similar sites? Then it’s easy to work out where you eat and stay, what sorts of products you buy, and more.

Let me, if I may, share one example. Not very long ago, my husband and I were in the market for a mattress. We did some online research and chose a few places to visit for price and feature comparisons. We made our selection and completed the purchase. The very next day, I started seeing several ads for mattresses at different online sites I visited. It’s no great secret that we made that purchase, but it did make me think about how easy it is to find out how many children someone has (and what they look like – just look at Facebook if you don’t believe me), where someone shops, where and when people travel, and lots more.

As you might expect, this issue of online privacy, and how much information we willingly share, comes up a lot in modern crime fiction. There are all sorts of plot lines that can come from the topic, too, if you think about it. Here are just a few of many examples out there.

In Alafair Burke’s 212, we are introduced to Megan Gunther, an undergraduate student at New York University (NYU). Like many young people, she’s ‘plugged in’ to social media, and has joined an online forum called Campus Juice. It’s a space where members post information about events, share informal reviews, and pass along gossip. One day, Megan finds to her horror that someone has posted her class schedule. As if that’s not enough, her personal schedule (e.g. when she goes to the gym, where and when she eats, and so on), are also posted. The post ends with this cryptic warning:
 

‘Megan Gunther, someone is watching.’
 

Megan hadn’t made a big secret of her schedule, but it’s unsettling to know that someone got that information and has made it public. When she is later found stabbed, NYPD detectives Ellie Hatcher and J.J. Rogan investigate. They find that her murder is actually connected to two other murders they’re investigating.

Michael Connelly’s The Fifth Witness features Lisa Trammel, who has been charged with murdering Mitchell Bondurant, the mortgage officer who was handling Trammel’s mortgage. Trammel had plenty of motive, too, as the bank was about to foreclose on her home. What’s more, she is an active member of FLAG, a citizen group that has been protesting banks’ foreclosure policies. Attorney Mickey Haller (one of Connelly’s protagonists) takes the Trammel case. He doesn’t believe she’s guilty of murder. If he’s going to win the case, though, he’s going to have to show how she might have been set up to seem guilty. He thinks he may have what he needs when discovers that Trammel had a Facebook page where she posted news about FLAG’s activities. One of the bank’s employees ‘friended’ Trammel, and so, had access to a lot of information about FLAG. It’s quite possible that that person could have been involved in setting her up. And the more Haller looks into what’s going on at the bank, the more people with motives he finds.

Herman Koch’s The Dinner is the story of two families: Paul and Claire Lohman; and Paul’s brother Serge, and his wife Babette. The two couples meet for dinner one evening at an ultra-exclusive Amsterdam restaurant. As the meal goes on, we learn more and more about these people as the proverbial layers get peeled away. There’s a great deal of dysfunction in both families, and we learn about that as the evening progresses. We also learn the reason the couples met. Both of them have fifteen-year-old sons; together, they committed a terrible crime. What’s more, it can’t be hushed up, because the crime was recorded, and one of the boys’ friends uploaded the recording to YouTube. Now, the two sets of parents have to work out what they’re going to do about the situation.

In Donna Malane’s My Brother’s Keeper, Wellingtono-based missing person expert Diane Rowe gets a new client. Former prison inmate Karen Mackie hires Rowe to find her fourteen-year-old daughter Sunny, who’s been living with her father Justin. Justin has legal custody of Sunny, but Karen doesn’t know where they are. Diane takes the case and begins the work of finding the girl. That part turns out to be fairly straightforward. Convincing Sunny to talk to her mother is going to be the real challenge. And, as Diane gets more involved in the case, it becomes clear that things are not what they seem, and that more is going on here than a mother who lost her way and now wants another chance. I don’t want to say much more for fear of spoilers. But I can say that one plot thread involves some photographs that were meant to be private…but ended up on the Internet. It’s an example of how people can sometimes get information, photographs, and more, whether we want them to or not.

And then there’s Sinéad Crowley’s Can Anybody Help Me? In that novel, Gerry and Yvonne Mulhern move from London to Dublin, so Gerry can take advantage of a lucrative job opportunity. With them, they bring their newborn daughter. Since Gerry’s not home much, it mostly falls to Yvonne to take care of the baby’s many needs. She’s overwhelmed as it is, and she doesn’t really know anyone in Dublin. So, she doesn’t have a support network. Then, she discovers an online forum called Netmammy, a support group for new mothers. Yvonne finally finds the support and camaraderie she needs. Then, one of her online contacts goes ‘off the grid.’ Not long afterwards, the body of an unknown woman is discovered in an abandoned apartment. Could it be Yvonne’s friend? If so, what does that mean for Netmammy? Throughout the novel, we see how many very personal things people sometimes post quite willingly. And that plays its role in the story.

That’s the thing about online life. We want (and deserve) our privacy. At the same time, people often give up a lot of their personal information without even being aware that that’s what they’re doing. It’s a reality of this new information age.

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Michael Rosenberg’s (AKA Passenger) Facebook.

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Filed under Alafair Burke, Donna Malane, Herman Koch, Michael Connelly, Sinéad Crowley

Adventure of a Lifetime*

extreme-adventuresHave you ever been on what a lot of people call an extreme adventure? People who go on those adventures don’t necessarily do so for the kinds of goals most of us might think of at first. Many don’t take those adventures to reach a specific place, or to find food. Rather, they want to dare themselves to complete the task. And there’s something to that, if your goal is to test your mettle.

Those sorts of adventures can add an interesting dimension to a crime novel, too. For one thing, the forces of nature can add an element of suspense to a novel. After all, hiking in virgin forest, zip-lining, and climbing mountains are dangerous. For another, all sorts of things can happen on such adventures, simply because the people who engage in them are human. They have their own histories and ‘baggage.’

Timothy Hallinan’s Philip ‘Poke’ Rafferty knows about the sort of person who likes this type of adventure. He’s an ex-pat American who now lives in Bangkok. He earns his living as a rough travel writer, creating guides for those who want to forego the ‘tourist’ destinations. And some of the places he’s written about are dangerous. Rafferty is also rather good at finding people who would rather not be found. And that’s a skill that comes in useful for the people who hire him as a sort of unofficial PI.

Sam Hilliard’s The Last Track introduces readers to former Special Forces operative and smoke jumper Mike Brody. Now, Brody is co-owner of S&B Outfitters, an extreme adventure tour company.  He guides clients through the tours; and, of course, his role is also to see that they’re as safe as possible. Before their divorce, he and his ex-wife, Jessica, had planned a trip to Montana’s Pine Woods Dude Ranch. They decide to go through with the holiday, mostly for the sake of their son, Andy. While they’re at the dude ranch, another guest, fourteen-year-old Sean Jackson, goes missing. It turns out that he witnessed a murder, and is now afraid (and with good reason) that the killer will target him. It’s bad enough that Sean is so young; it’s even worse that he’s inexperienced. So Brody is engaged to go out into the country around the dude ranch and try to find Sean before the killer – or the elements – do.

Paddy Richardson’s Hunting Blind takes place on New Zealand’s South Island, a place of great natural beauty and plenty of rugged, unspoiled places for those who like to test themselves against the elements. In the novel, fledgling psychiatrist Stephanie Anderson, who lives and works in Dunedin, gets a new client, Elisabeth Clark. Over the course of several sessions, Elisabeth begins to trust Stephanie enough to tell her a haunting story. Years ago, Elisabeth’s younger sister Gracie disappeared. No sign of her was ever found – not even a body. This story is eerily similar to Stephanie’s own history. Seventeen years earlier, her own younger sister Gemma also disappeared – again, with no trace ever found. Against her better judgement, Stephanie decides to lay her personal ghosts to rest (and get some answers for the Clark family). She travels from Dunedin back to her home at Wanaka to find out who was responsible for so much devastation. Along the way, she meets Dan, a hunting guide whose specialty is taking clients into South Island’s wildernesses. Dan invites her to take a tour with him; and, although it’s not usually her sort of thing, Stephanie is persuaded to go. In the process, she gets a real understanding of what people find so appealing about such adventures. The land is unspoiled, the water absolutely pure, and the natural beauty is breathtaking.

In Donna Malane’s Surrender, we meet Wellington-based Diane Rowe, who is a missing person expert. In one plot thread of this novel, a grim discovery is made in Rimutaka State Forest: the remains of an unknown man. Inspector Frank McFay hires Rowe to try to find out who the man was, and how he came to be in the forest. Little by little, she’s able to put a name and identity with the remains. She finds that, among other things, the victim enjoyed the sort of adventure that pitted him against the elements. In this case, he ran into more danger than he’d bargained for, as the saying goes.

And then there’s Geoffrey Robert’s The Alo Release. In that novel, a Los Angeles-based company called Vestco is planning to release a new genetically modified seed coating that, so its manufacturer claims, will eliminate hunger. The Millbrook Foundation, an environmentalist watchdog group, has been suspicious for a long time about both Vestco’s claims and its motives. The foundation is convinced that the seed coating could be dangerous. But, with only nine days to go, the group hasn’t been successful at preventing the scheduled release, and Millbrook has decided to stop fighting it. Legendary environmental activist Jay Duggan has chosen to retire from the foundation, and return to his native New Zealand. He’s invited Science Director Dr. Catherine ‘Cat’ Taylor, and IT director Matthew Liddell to go with him for a short visit to New Zealand before they return to work. What they don’t know is that one of Vestco’s employees, Henry Beck, has been murdered, and that they will be framed for it. Once Vestco learns that they’ve left the country, the company uses all of its considerable influence to catch the three people who are now regarded as international fugitives. If they’re going to outwit their enemies, they’re going to have to make use of all of their resources, and that includes Duggan’s wide-ranging experience in out-of-the-way places. Along the way, they get help from an assortment of people, including an extreme adventurer who gives them some very useful equipment as they go deeper and deeper into the back country.

Extreme adventuring isn’t for everyone. But some people swear by the feeling of empowerment that comes from climbing that mountain, or going down that rough patch of whitewater. And those plot points can add a layer of interest and tension to a crime novel.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Coldplay.

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Filed under Donna Malane, Geoffrey Robert, Paddy Richardson, Sam Hilliard, Timothy Hallinan

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle*

JunglesThere’s something about jungles and forests. If you don’t know what you’re doing, they’re very dangerous – even fatal. And if you couple that with the risk of murder, the context is even more menacing. So it’s little wonder that jungles feature in crime fiction. There’s also the fact that the jungle is, for a lot of people, an exotic setting. That can add a layer of intrigue to a crime novel.

In Agatha Christie’s Cards on the Table, for instance, we are introduced to Major John Despard. He is one of eight guests invited to a strange dinner party hosted by the very eccentric Mr. Shaitana. Four of those guests are sleuths (including Hercule Poirot). The other four (including Despard) are people Shiatiana thinks have gotten away with murder. During the dinner, Shaitana lets out various hints about the crimes some of his guests may have committed. That turns out to be a fatal mistake, as he is killed during a game of after-dinner bridge. The only possible suspects are the people Shaitana has accused of murder in his roundabout way, so Poirot and the other sleuths look into those people’s pasts to see which of them is guilty. That’s how they learn about Despard’s history. He’s spent plenty of time in wild places, and agreed to take Professor Luxmore and his wife into the Amazon jungle so that Luxmore could study some of the plant life there. Luxmore died there, and everyone said it was of a fever. But was it? Or did Despard commit murder? And if he did, did he also kill Shaitana? You’re absolutely right, fans of The Man in the Brown Suit.

In Aaron Elkins’ Little Tiny Teeth, anthropologist Gideon Oliver takes a trip into the Amazon rainforest. It’s partly a getaway adventure, and partly an opportunity to enhance his professional knowledge. Then, follow passenger Arden Scofield, an ethnobiologist, is murdered. Now, Oliver has to not only survive the jungle trip, but also find out which of the people with him is the killer.

There’s another Amazon jungle setting in Leighton Gage’s Dying Gasp. In that novel, Deputado Roberto Malan brings Chief Inspector Mario Silva a very disturbing case. Malan’s eighteen-year-old granddaughter, Marta, has gone missing. This isn’t an ordinary disappearance, either. The family is prominent and wealthy, and Malan doesn’t want any scandal attached to the Malan name. And scandal there would be, too. It turns out that Marta ran away from home after being beaten by her father. And her grandfather doesn’t want the media or the public to get word of the story. So he asks Silva to handle the case personally. This Silva agrees to do. The trail leads to Manaus, capital of the State of Amazonas, in the heart of the Amazon jungle. There, so it is believed, Marta is being held as part of an underage prostitution ring. If he’s going to learn the truth, and find Marta before it’s too late, Silva will have to go up against bureaucratic incompetence and greed, the jungle itself, and an old nemesis.

Of course, there are lots of other jungles besides the Amazon. For example, John Enright’s Apelu Soifua novels take place in American Samoa. Soifua is a police detective who’s originally from the island, but spent seven years with the San Francisco Police. In Pago Pago Tango, the first of the series, he’s returned to his homeland and now works with the local police force. One day, he’s called to the home of wealthy Gordon Turich, an executive with a powerful tuna company. Turich’s home has been invaded, and some things stolen. What Turich doesn’t tell Soifua is that one of the items is a gun. It turns out that that gun was used to commit murder, so Soifua soon finds himself going after a killer as well as a thief. Enright’s novels highlight the culture clash between the dominant US culture and the culture of the people who have always lived in Samoa. And that includes their views of living in and with the jungle.

And then there’s Donna Malane’s Surrender. That story features missing person expert Diane Rowe, who’s been commissioned by Wellington Inspector Frank McFay to help identify a ‘John Doe’ whose remains were found in Rimutaka State Forest. In one plot thread of this story, readers get to ‘follow along’ as Rowe goes into the forest where the remains were found, looks for any evidence at all that might help her, and slowly discovers the truth about the body. It turns out that this is a person who went missing twenty-five years earlier, so solving the case won’t be easy. But Rowe eventually learns the truth. And in more than one place in the novel, we see that a jungle can be a very dangerous place…

Although it’s not, strictly speaking, a jungle, a dense forest plays a role in Paddy Richardson’s Hunting Blind. Newly-minted psychologist Stephanie Anderson is living and working in Dunedin when she gets a new client, Elisabeth Clark. Years ago, her younger sister Gracie was abducted, and never found. Not even a body was discovered. That story is eerily similar to Stephanie’s own sad family history. When she was fourteen, her younger sister Gemma went missing. Despite a massive search, she was never found. Against her better professional judgement, Stephanie decides to lay her own ghosts to rest, and use what she learns from her client to find the person who devastated so many lives. She takes a journey back to her home town of Wanaka, and along the way, traces the person responsible. I won’t give away spoilers, but it’s another example of the danger of forests.

Jungles and forests are beautiful places, and necessary for the planet’s ecosystem. But that doesn’t mean they’re fun, worry-free places. At least, not in crime fiction.

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Solomon Linda’s The Lion Sleeps Tonight, made popular by The Tokens. Ladysmith Black Mambazo has done a version, too, with the Mint Juleps, that I personally like very much. There are other versions, too, of course.

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Filed under Aaron Elkins, Agatha Christie, Donna Malane, John Enright, Leighton Gage, Paddy Richardson