by Nikki Crutchley
This is a great read. I read it in one sitting and finished it with that regretful feeling of having finished a good book and wishing for more. On page 9 I read:
‘….the clouds glided across the darkening sky – even they had a better place to be.’
And knew I was in the safe hands of a born story-teller.
Zoe Haywood has been informed that her mother Lillian has committed suicide. She is forced to return to Crawton, the small New Zealand town she grew up in and longed to escape from. Ghosts from her past abound for Zoe as she rekindles her old friendship with Alex, the nerdy boy who had been her best friend. This relationship gives Zoe a light in the darkness that has become her life as she struggles to feel anything for the mother who never loved her. Then Zoe finds a notebook of Lillian’s. Girls have been going missing and as a respected, much-loved school counsellor, Lillian had known these girls but her suspicions are fogged by the Alzheimers claiming her mind and Zoe, reading the ramblings in the notebooks, can’t decide what’s true and what’s illness.
This novel has an unsettling opening. The principal of an expensive private school is covering up the violence of one of Zoe’s pupils. The father of the boy makes everything go away with a hefty donation – rich privilege protecting and covering up its bad behaviour. One of our local Catholic schools engaged in similar behaviour not too long ago – protecting the boys of privileged backgrounds whose untenable behaviour led to two young female teachers having to leave so, from the outset of this book, I felt a strong sense of ‘This could happen. It all too easily could.’ And that feeling lasted through the horrors of abduction and slavery in Auckland.
I don’t want to say too much and offer spoilers in the guise of this review so will finish with this – Strong characters. Good dialogue on the whole. Great plot. Wonderful reveal. This would make a great mini-series for TV.
Thanks to Nikki for a great read.
Author: Nikki Crutchley
Publisher: Oak House Press
Available: from www.nikkicrutchley.com and ebook from Amazon