A Confidential Agreement by Rita Ann Ryan – 2016

Confidential agreementWoohoo this is great: Interesting characters, complex plotting, multiple storylines – and hints at future volumes!  Frida Delaney has come home to her family’s small Kawa Bay home for her mother’s funeral.  She is haunted by a traumatic past and has an uneasy relationship with her ex-cop father.  Also new to the Hawke’s Bay region is Detective Sergeant Kelso Chang, an ex-Wellington cop.  Frida and Chang’s paths cross when Frida discovers the man in the neighbouring beach house has been brutally murdered.  The search to discover the murderer, and Frida’s efforts to clear a woman who is suspected, provide the thread through the story.  Left and right politics, institutional corruption, the fine line between eccentricity and madness, between ambition and greed, and the secrets held within families and organisations – it is a long and involved tale but keeps you guessing and intrigued throughout, and you keep changing your mind about characters the more you learn about them.  There is a theme of division: a group of key characters first got together during that watershed of national division: the 1981 Springbok Tour; there is division between and within the political spectrum (the son in law of the murder victim is putting himself up as a contender for the Wellington Central National Party seat; the victim worked for the National Union of Teachers – and they are a preparing for a strike due to the failure of pay negotiations with a Labour Government); there is division within families too, dysfunctionality common; and both Frida and Kel Chang are working out who they will align with in their new environments.  I don’t want to give any of the plot away as there are secrets to uncover and be shocked by – and cover-ups to be appalled by.  All I can say is read it, and like me you will want to read more about Frida Delaney and DS Kel Chang!


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