4 out of 4 stars
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Pancake Money is my first Finn Bell book but won’t be my last! This is a very complex story that taught me interesting facts about Catholicism, human psychopathy and New Zealand. Typically when I read a book for entertainment, I don’t expect to actually learn something from it so, for me, it was an excellent read. The setting is New Zealand and explores the Maori culture, gang life, Catholic beliefs, and how pain can change a person. The detail in which Bell writes makes me believe that New Zealand is every bit as pretty and rugged as my mind imagines.
The novel begins with a creepy “before the story” that really had me hooked – I had to find out what was happening! Both main characters, Detective Bobby Ress and his partner Detective Pollo Latu, have been together since Bobby first made detective and are best friends, despite their age difference (Bobby is in his late 20’s and Pollo is “an experienced mentor”); their families are close as well.
Bobby is taking a Forensic Psychology 702 class led by lecturer Ann Bowlby. Ms. Bowlby, it turns out, is a common denominator of the murders of several retired Catholic priests, which Bobby and Pollo are investigating. I won’t go into detail about their relationship – read the book! I found the lectures very interesting. It made me feel as though I were a part of the class, and was thought-provoking to read how the human brain deals with and reacts to pain.
The camaraderie between the two detectives is witty and funny at times, yet serious too. I felt like I was a fly on the wall eavesdropping on their private conversations. I enjoyed the relationships they have with their families, and how the wives are supportive of their husband’s careers but very concerned for their safety (as any spouse of a member of law enforcement should be). I like that Carol is a crucial part of their investigation into these gruesome murders because the “desk people” don’t always get the credit we deserve.
I don’t particularly like that there are incomplete sentences in conversations but I do realize that people talk this way all the time so I wouldn’t rate it lower because of this.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I give this rating because I feel the author has developed interesting characters and writes in a way that is easy to follow and believable. Unfortunately, in this crazy world in which we live nowadays, the plot could be realistic. The book is definitely a page-turner!
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