4 out of 4 stars
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The Easter Make Believers by Finn Bell is a fantastic book. I found it to be compelling, thought provoking, and thoroughly enjoyable to read. I give it 4 out of 4 stars.
From the opening line, which is easily one of the best I've read in years, Mr. Bell takes the reader on a thrilling ride through the deep south of New Zealand's South Island. At times it is difficult to decide if Lawrence, New Zealand is actually the main character in this story, so great a part does Lawrence, it's history and geography, play in Mr. Bell's story. But the protagonist, Nicholas "Nick" Cooper, and his partner Tobe White, detectives with the Gang Intelligence Centre (GIC), are such well written and compelling characters they are able to stand alongside the rugged landscape without being overshadowed by it.
The story is mainly told from Nick's perspective with brief glimpses at two other driving forces of the narrative - the kidnapper and a storm. The main story opens when Nick and Tobe are called to a hostage situation in a rural village - an unusual occurrence for detectives with the GIC - but it quickly becomes apparent why the police captain, Martin, called them in. A family is being held hostage by the leadership of the biggest gang family on the island. After the situation literally blows up in their faces, Nick and Tobe find themselves in a race against time and weather to find the last surviving gang member, one of the Black family, and James Chen, the father of the family held hostage by the gang leaders.
Using a touch as skilled as anything I've read by James Patterson or Thomas Harris, Finn Bell weaves a story that is part mystery (why did the gang single out the Chen family? Why Lawrence?) part police procedural (collecting of evidence, interviewing of witnesses, and police/SWAT tactics) and part thriller (will the kidnapped man get away? Will Nick and Tobe find them in time? What will happen when the storm hits?) All of these pieces build on each other until the climax when Nick, and by extension the reader, is left with an impossible decision to make. One that could not only affect himself, but also Tobe, Nick's girlfriend Maria, and the Chen family.
This book will appeal to adults and mature readers who are fans of crime thrillers in general and the Alex Cross stories in particular. There is a fair amount of language (40 "F bombs" and a few other minor swear words), but considering the plot, characters, and storyline, the language is not out of place and is not used in a gratuitous manner. The Editor’s Note at the beginning of the book explains the editing process was thorough and professional, and I couldn’t agree more with this statement. There were no typographical errors or timeline errors that I noticed as I read this great book. I highly recommend The Easter Make Believers and can't wait to read more by Finn Bell.
The Easter Make Believers
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