Au­thor at her best in this story

CHB Mail - - News - — Linda Thomp­son — Linda Thomp­son

Y is for Yes­ter­day

By Sue Grafton, Macmil­lan, $34.99 .................................................... You wouldn’t read about it.

Crime writer de­vel­ops a se­ries based on the al­pha­bet — and then dies be­fore she pub­lishes the very last one. Z is for . . . we’ll never know.

Sue Grafton was a master of this genre and her crime sto­ries fea­tur­ing de­tec­tive Kin­sey Mill­hone have be­come best sell­ers. No doubt this one will too, as it doesn’t de­vi­ate from the tried and true for­mula.

Kin­sey is smart and tough. This tale starts in 1979, when a student at a posh pri­vate school steals test an­swers, which leads to a mur­der.

A group of boys sex­u­ally as­sault a class­mate and film the at­tack. The tape goes miss­ing and the sus­pected thief dies. One gives ev­i­dence, two boys go to prison but the ring­leader dis­ap­pears.

Ten years later, one of the boys is re­leased, and is sent a copy of the miss­ing tape with a ran­som de­mand. There’s an­other story too — Kin­sey’s run-in with a serial killer in a pre­vi­ous book is also out of prison and hunt­ing her down.

This is Grafton at her best, and it’s a multi-lay­ered story that her fans will love.

And they’ll be long­ing for some­one to un­earth a man­u­script for the last of the al­pha­bet se­ries so they can find out what Z is for.

EIGH­TEEN-year- old Kerry Dowl­ing hosts a party to cel­e­brate her grad­u­a­tion.

Her par­ents ar­rive home to find her ly­ing at the bot­tom of their pool fully dressed. On closer ex­am­i­na­tion it is re­vealed she has been hit over the head with a golf club and tipped into the pool.

The party fin­ished at11pm giv­ing Kerry the op­por­tu­nity to clean up be­fore her par­ents ar­rived home. Sus­pi­cion falls on a dis­abled young man, the next door neigh­bour, who had been a friend of Kerry’s all through school days. He wanted to come to her party, but Kerry had told him it was only for her grad­u­a­tion class. The other sus­pect was Kerry’s boyfriend. Kerry had been flirt­ing and they had had a dis­agree­ment and he left early. He lied to the po­lice about re­turn­ing to Kerry’s home to help her with the clean­ing.

Kerry’s par­ents had been away meet­ing Kerry’s older sis­ter Aline at the air­port. Aline was re­turn­ing home af­ter some years of work­ing at an International school in Lon­don. She has been ap­pointed to the po­si­tion of guid­ance coun­sel­lor at both Kerry’s and her old school.

Aline is called into the case by the hand­some and charm­ing de­tec­tive. It seems as though he has no op­por­tu­nity to talk to many of Kelly’s class­mates who are un­der 18 whose par­ents refuse to have them ques­tioned by the po­lice. Un­easy about this Aline man­ages to quash her scru­ples as a guid­ance coun­sel­lor and co-op­er­ates with De­tec­tive Mike Wil­son at­tempt­ing to get any in­for­ma­tion from the girls which can help to get to the truth about Kelly’s killer.

This is a straight for­ward who­dun­nit, easy to read, short chap­ters and no side is­sues. The story sticks to the mur­der. I can’t help but com­pare Mary Hig­gins Clark with James Patterson. Both seem to be able to churn out their books at an amaz­ing rate and both now use co-writ­ers to keep up with the de­mand. Carol Hig­gins Clark’s sus­pense nov­els are international best­sellers. It is re­ported that there are more than one hun­dred mil­lion copies in print in the United States alone. She has been termed “the queen of sus­pense”.

I found this sus­pense novel a quick easy and quite sat­is­fy­ing read, but not at all in the class of writ­ers of the ilk of Louise Penny, El­iz­a­beth Ge­orge, a cou­ple of my favourite women sus­pense nov­el­ists. It is a good aero­plane book, fills in a few hours, but you can leave it on the plane when fin­ished. Haunted New Zealand Road Trip: In Search of Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity

By Mark Wall­bank, New Hol­land Pub­lish­ers, $35 .................................................... Even if you don’t be­lieve in them, ghosts have a cu­ri­ous fas­ci­na­tion.

We’ve all been in places that made our hair stand on end. Mark Wall­bank says he still can’t an­swer the ques­tion ‘do ghosts ex­ist’ af­ter 30 years of field re­search.

New Zealand is full of them. There’s the aptly named Spir­its Bay, the old psy­chi­atric hospi­tals (nowhere spook­ier!), Napier prison, Hast­ings Opera House (now be­ing re­fur­bished) and even the Hawke’s Bay To­day news­pa­per office, mys­te­ri­ous lights at Lake Dun­stan, the Black­ball com­mu­nity cen­tre, the spooky Foveaux Ho­tel.

Our colo­nial past lends it­self to plenty of tall and some­times not so tall tales of death and mur­der — the stuff of scary sto­ries.

This is not a book to read in bed just be­fore you turn out the lights. Wall­bank has taken co­pi­ous case notes, and he presents some fas­ci­nat­ing, if in­con­clu­sive, sto­ries from our spooky past. Who you gonna call?


Mary Hig­gins Clark.

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