My Brother’s Keeper, by Donna Malane (HarperCollins, RRP $30):
Kiwi screenwriter and author Donna Malane has finally produced her second novel and it was worth the wait.
Once again, the main character is missing persons expert Diane Rowe, the stroppy, strong and perfectly flawed heroine of Malane’s debut novel, Surrender. And once again, she finds herself up-close-and-personal with a killer. However, this time the killer is asking for her help.
Rowe is approached by an ex-con and ex-druggie looking for help finding her missing teen daughter. The mother lost touch with 14-year-old Sunny while she was in jail and at first, Rowe takes the case at face value, believing it is simply a mother wanting to reconnect with her daughter.
However, it doesn’t take long for Rowe to discover the truth about the mother-daughter relationship: Sunny survived her mother’s attempt to kill her. Unfortunately, her younger brother didn’t.
The mother says she wants to make sure her daughter is OK and Rowe makes short work of finding the girl. But as she uncovers more information she also becomes more and more uneasy about the situation: is the mother really just wanting to check Sunny is OK or is the girl in danger?
Set in Auckland and Wellington, this has a nice feeling of familiarity to it, the characters come across as believable and there are some nice plot twists tucked away in this wee gem.
Bucking the trend for books the size of Texas, this book is 270-ish page offering. But trust me, those 200-odd pages are absolute crackers.
Malane’s debut novel won the inaugural New Zealand Society of Authors-Pindar Publishing prize in 2010. Three years down the track, this followup is well worth the wait.