Bradley – a married man who is the father to two pre-school girls. His personal life presents pressures of kids, a huge mortgage, and a wife who disparages him at every turn. He works as an accountant at an insurance company and is highly stressed at his job. One particularly stressful day he makes the unwise decision to vent some steam by picking up a prostitute. Things go awry and he ends up hitting her, then taking her in his car to an abandoned warehouse he owns.
Billy – a teenage street artist who signs her works ‘Girlie’. She sleeps rough, and turns the occasional trick to fund her meals and her art. Spray paint isn’t cheap you know… Originally from Fiji, she has adopted Auckland, New Zealand as her home. She has another homeless man, Max, who looks out for her.
“Most of the time he felt invisible, just one of the faceless, nameless lost minions of this city that the everyday people automatically filtered out of their consciousness.”
Max – a middle-aged homeless man. He walked away from his life two years ago and now he sleeps rough, with cardboard boxes as shelter. His meals are usually items he scavenges from dumpsters – things other people threw away. Max has one friend, a homeless girl called Billy. Now Billy is missing and Max is distraught. So distraught that he summons up strength he didn’t know he had and goes to the police.
Meredith – is a Police Detective Sergeant in Auckland. When she sees Max she is shocked to the core. For this is not their first meeting…
Wow! This is a crime thriller that I absolutely devoured. I wasn’t expecting such an immersive reading experience.
The Auckland setting was one I am completely unfamiliar with, though the author did her utmost to make it seem as though I had visited many times.
Each of the characters was so very authentic that I ‘knew’ them all. At first I felt quite sorry for Bradley, but events soon transpired that my sympathy soon turned to distaste and even repulsion. Bradley morphed from a milquetoast into an angry, domineering, bully concerned solely with his personal power and control over others. Max was a pitiable character who one could not help but feel empathy for. He seemed to hold his secrets close to his chest. Billy was a strong and beautiful young woman. Despite her lot in live, she remains stalwart in her quest for life – a better life. Meredith was formidable – in a good way. I loved her.
This novel spoke to the worldwide homeless problem. It served as a needed reminder that the ‘faceless‘ person you pass in the street, the one whom you can’t quite make eye contact with, is a person who used to have a life. What separated them from that life and where they are now could be any number of reasons, but we must remember that they are still valuable – still worth redemption.
This is a novel which I can confidently recommend to all who appreciate an exquisitely written crime thriller. The characters fairly leapt off the pages. The short, tension-filled chapters ensured a fast-paced plot. The ending was perfect. I loved it.
This was my first Vanda Symon book, but definitely not my last.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Orenda Books – for my own reading enjoyment and the writing of this review. I was asked to join the blog tour for this title by Anne Cater (Random Things Blog Tours).
ISBN: 9781914585043 – ASIN: B09M5ZKPGY – 317 pages
Publication coincides with International Women’s Month and Homeless Women’s Day, with a percentage of profits to SHELTER (a homeless charity)Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series, which includes Overkill, The Ringmaster, Containment and Bound, hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award. Overkill was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.
Vanda Symon currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and Louie the cat.