The Only Secret Left to Keep by Katherine Hayton – 2017

This is the third – and hopefully not last – in the fabulous Detective Ngaire Blakes series.  And, as with The three deaths of Magdalene Lynton, Blakes is onlysecretlefttokeepon a cold case.  A skeleton is discovered by an idiot looting houses that have been evacuated due to the hills of Christchurch being ablaze.  The skeleton is in a shallow grave, and from a protest badge close to the remains, appears to date from the time of the 1981 Springbok Tour.  An autopsy finds evidence that the young man was killed by a Police baton.  Added to this, when the deceased is identified it looks like the investigation into his death was virtually non-existent.  So, was this a cover up of Police brutality?  As Blakes investigates, she discovers divisions between families, the racism that is still alive and well in our society, and the sad and complex lives of those whose lives don’t fit “the norm”, like the victim: “A prince of oddities in a community where being the same is a commodity”.  Sam, the victim, had a girlfriend, Shannon, who has served 15 years for brutally killing two teen-aged boys.  Shannon’s father is wracked with guilt over something.  Down in Dunedin a Christian counsellor is helping men stay true to the lifestyle God intended for them.  How does this all fit together? – wonderfully.  The only secret left to keep is a cleverly plotted and sad satisfying mystery, one you have to think your way through to put all the pieces together.  And the unravelling reveals more of Blakes, her traumatic history, and her determination to face her demons.  You could read this as a stand-alone, but I am glad I read the series from the beginning.

 

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