Saturday, 29 December 2018
FINN BELL - THE EASTER MAKE BELIEVERS (2018)
LISTED FOR THE NGAIO MARSH AWARD
When an innocent family is taken hostage in their home no one is prepared for how fast it all goes terribly wrong.
With the small community of Lawrence still reeling from shock, detectives Nick Cooper and Tobe White stand among the dead bodies knowing it's not over. Relief that the two young daughters have survived quickly turns to fear for their missing father, somehow impossibly vanishing from a house surrounded by police.
The mystery deepens as Nick and Tobe realize they know every gunman lying dead here - up to last night they were the leaders of the biggest criminal gang in the country. The desperate search and rescue efforts soon collide with their own challenging investigation into a deeper, older tragedy.
Where they begin to learn just how far someone will go for those he truly, dearly hates.
A hostage situation, a stand-off, an escalation, gunfire, an explosion, four dead, one wounded and inexplicably two disappeared - the innocent father, James Chen and the leader of the criminal gang.
Thereafter an investigation into the why and an urgent manhunt launched to try and intercept the pair of missing men and save the father of the family; a family that has already suffered tragedy in the past.
Our manhunt primarily concerns two cops - partners and friends, Nick Cooper and the older Tobe White. We have alternate chapters featuring the two missing men, James Chen and gang leader, Remu Black and interspersed in the narrative, weather updates. A fierce snow storm is descending on the area, bringing with it unseasonal weather, which will impact on our outcome.
Bell packs a lot into a short novel of only 220-odd pages. We have a puzzle as to the why of the hostage situation, some investigation into the background of both victim and villains, a prison visit to try and unsettle and shape our captors intentions, a thrilling pursuit, some time for a bit of family background for our two detectives, a dramatic landscape with forest and fauna and old gold mines and a real sense of isolation and peace, temporarily shattered by the events unfolding and a stunning conclusion where all the answers to the puzzle are revealed, not without a bit of a twist and a lot more drama.
Enjoyable, gripping, intense, thoughtful, surprising and satisfying. Hard to do it justice in a rushed review. My advice - read it yourself.
My first taste of New Zealand author, Finn Bell's work but not my last after this experience. There's an interesting afterword from the author with some reflections, history and information on the deep south of New Zealand..... daffodils, immigration, mining, leprosy and incarceration.
4.5 from 5
Finn Bell has two earlier novels published - Dead Lemons and Pancake Money - which I hope to get to in 2019. Dead Lemons won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel in 2017.
Read in December, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 216
Source - copy received from author
Format - kindle