Author at her best in this story
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.