4 out of 4 stars
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It’s 3:30 a.m. The early morning is cold and quiet when Detectives Nick Cooper and Tobe White are called onto the scene of a hostage situation. “It’s not our first 3:30 a.m.” Nick monologues as he and Tobe gauge the precariousness of their situation – however, this isn’t just any 3:30 a.m. It is on this morning in the suburbs of Lawrence that we are thrust into a gripping mystery full of unseen twists and turns.
The Easter Make Believers starts and ends with a bang. The novel follows Nick and Tobe in their quest to find a motive for why the unassuming Chen family would be the target of one of the largest criminal gangs in New Zealand. To add fuel to the flames, the Chen family patriarch, James, has been kidnapped by the dangerous criminal gangster Remu Black. Running on borrowed time, Nick and Tobe embark on grueling mission to find James, all while uncovering the secrets tucked away in a small town.
Bell’s novel has all of the standard fare for a police procedural – a detective with a traumatic past, a squad of unique characters that cooperate to find the culprit, and interwoven plots that thrust the reader every which way before settling on the big reveal. But the novel can’t be pigeonholed by conventions, which is what makes it so compelling. Though Nick fulfills the trope of the gritty detective with a complex view of his job and family, he is unexpectedly guided by his emotions and gut-feelings – especially when contrasted with Tobe’s cool-headed, philosophical gait. It is this interplay between the two detectives that drives the plot, even in its more quiet moments. Their growth throughout the novel is subtle, yet apparent by the final few chapters.
Yet by far the most stand out part of the novel is its structure. The chapters alternate between Nick and Tobe’s investigation, James and Remu’s confrontations, and the impending snow storm that looms over Lawrence. These shifts in perspective not only serve to build suspense, but explore prevalent themes of the novel that wink in the direction of its incredible conclusion.
The novel is well-written and appears to be professionally edited. Bell writes in a simple yet thought-provoking style, sprinkling all of his chapters with little divots of information to guide you toward the twist-ending. The theme of family and morality is prevalent throughout the novel, and sometimes the presentation of these themes can be a bit heavy-handed. However, there are moments of great tact in Bell’s writing that reveal more than meets the eye – do not let the inaction of the storm chapters fool you!
Overall, I give The Easter Make Believers 4 out of 4 stars. This novel has a little bit of everything – if you enjoy typical crime fiction novels with unique characters and a complex plot, or just a good story surrounded by pervasive and complicated themes, then this may be the book for you.
The Easter Make Believers
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