by Cat Connor
At one point towards the end of this novel, one of the main protagonists describes its setting as ‘sleepy Upper Hutt’. And indeed, Upper Hutt can be said to be an essential part of the plot. Its streets, its pubs, its brewery, its restaurants, its retail outlets (particularly a bookshop) and many other actual establishments become minor features and give the story a remarkable authenticity.
Most of the major protagonists in the novel are, however, anything but ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. This is a story of mystery and intrigue, of international spies, of a behind-the-scenes world of personal danger and even of threats to humanity’s existence. It involves a panoply of characters including foreign mercenaries, an Australian bikie gang, home-bred thugs, a small group of elderly women in a Rest Home (who are given the name ‘The Cronies of Doom’), a greyhound called Romeo and a number of individuals whose motives are muddied, to say the least, and who learn to trust or mistrust each other as the plot moves along.
Technology is another element that plays a huge part in the plot. This reviewer, being something of a technophobe, found much of it surprising, and more than a little scary. But these are the tools of the spies and missing-people hunters that provide the essential story. They are multi-faceted, these central characters. In some cases they are also apt to have more than one name. There are a number of significant players, but Ronnie (Veronica) and Crockett (Crocker) drive the plot along as they search for answers to the disappearance of a woman whose identity and loyalties are not clear. It all (or mostly!) does become clear in the end, but to give more away would spoil the story.
There are also welcome elements of humour throughout the book, and of romance. The dialogue is mostly snappy, though at times it is required perhaps to carry rather too much of the plot. The reader does get to know the key characters well, though, through their interactions. But the reader should also be aware that any assumptions they make as to whether or not a particular character is on the side of the angels may well prove incorrect as the plot unfolds.
It requires close attention to follow the plot’s twists and turns, but such close consideration is worth the effort. Could ‘sleepy Upper Hutt’ really be the nursery for such nefarious goings-on? If so, then any other corner of the country could be the same. Not only is this a thrilling story of modern-day spies and their methods, it is a reminder that like it or not, New Zealand is part of the international world in which they operate.
This is a refreshingly original novel, and a cracking good read.
Author: Cat Connor
Publisher: 9mm Press
ISBN: Print: 978-0-473-57154-2. ePub: 978-0-473-57155-9. Mobi: 978-0-463-57156-6
RRP: paperback $33.00; ePub and Mobi: $3.37
Available: paper: Universal Purchase Link: books2read.com/lurethelie
Paperback: Amazon and www.writersplot.org.nz