4 out of 4 stars
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Pancake Money by Finn Hill follows detectives Bobby Ress and Pollo Latu as they race to solve the murders of Catholic priests. The pair follow a rabbit trail of clues which lead them to a Maori gang, a secret retreat for Catholic priests, and an escaped convict. The mystery deepens with each new murder and clue. The story is told from Bobby’s point of view.
This book reminded me of some of my favorite gritty crime drama movies. There was lots of action and gunshots sprinkled throughout the books. In fact, I imagined scenes with such dark lighting, I would need to watch it at night with all the lights off. This made the book incredibly enjoyable to me. The characters lived on little sleep, some coffee, and the occasional kiss from their wives. There was a peek inside their personal lives, but the plot was driven by the case. Any reference to family was used as motivation for the detectives to continue on.
My first issue with the book my lack of understanding of the underlying culture of the region for the setting of the book. It took me a bit to figure out where the book was set. I knew within a few pages it was not set in the United States of America, which didn’t bother me. However, references to places were a little vague at first and it was hard to pinpoint a location. Once the detectives start talking about Maori culture, I was able to pick up on the country. The author does add a small section at the back of the book to explain how he picked character names and the history of the Catholic church, Maori culture, and the references to colonisation.
My only other issue was the ending. I was not completely satisfied with how the author chose to end the story. I did like the way the crime and guilt were explained to me. The close felt a little rushed to me, though. When I realized I had hit the end, I wanted more from the story. Which shows I was invested in the story and, like life, things are not always wrapped up neatly.
Overall, I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. It was exactly the kind of crime novel I like. The story was self-contained. There was no assumption I was reading a series and would already know everything about the characters and their location. The ending wrapped up the case and the story enough that I felt only a small lack of closure. It is a great read for those looking for a singular story to read and do not mind stepping out of the country to get it.
This book is not for readers who prefer a lighter detective story. There is little humor, so the seriousness and details may be too much for some. Also, if you looking for a new series to start, this does not fit that bill either. The only errors in the text could be attributed to the platform I used to read the novel as they were all due to spacing between paragraphs. I enjoyed the novel and hope to read more by the author, including one he says with a small part by one of the characters of Pancake Money.
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