4 out of 4 stars
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The Easter Make Believers, by Finn Bell, is a dramatic and captivating crime novel set in South New Zealand. The novel begins with a shocking gang-related conflict in a sleepy and small town. The local police force has to make sense of a confusing dead-end case while also battling uncompromising and humbling natural forces. The book brings together elements of gold rush history and reflections about the reality of investigations and crime.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The author was successful at quickly building suspense and drama and was able to maintain reader interest as the story unfolded. It was hard not to get swept up and read big sections at once without realizing it because the writing and action is engaging. The plot was creative and did not feel hackneyed or poorly developed, which can be a risk in the genre of crime novels. Furthermore, the book goes beyond a factual description of the action and adds in a philosophical debate about love, hope, and the willingness to make sacrifices for others. These elements gave the novel depth and impact, and it consequently felt elevated above other crime books that focus solely on action.
One aspect of the book that was especially enjoyable was the characterization. The dialogue was realistic and fast-paced, and the communication styles varied realistically from character to character. The author also effectively employed switches in perspective in each chapter to deepen the mystery of the situation and to build the action from multiple angles. It was professionally written with very few errors, and it was educational about the topics it covered without being too full of jargon or weighed down by facts. The style of the writing was fragmented and quick-paced, but this does not mean that the language was unimaginative. Instead, the writing was poetic and evocative, with phrases like “a heaving oval of cops” or “water owns this land, with lakes, dams, ponds, streams and waterfalls carving their ongoing arguments across the seasons.”
Without revealing anything, the part of the book that was most disappointing were some details in the epilogue which seemed unnecessary and too tidy. Ultimately, it felt like these final details slightly undermined the strength of the book.
I recommend this book to audiences who enjoy a thrilling and clever journey to the heart of a mysterious crime, though readers who are easily spooked may want to avoid it. This book will also likely be satisfying for readers who find pleasure in reflecting on human nature, especially regarding love and sacrifice within a family.
The Easter Make Believers
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