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One Heart One Spade by Alistair Luke

One Heart One Spade is a police procedural crime novel that takes the reader back to Wellington in 1977 and 1978.

Detective Lucas Cole is the central character, and his personal and professional life is under pressure. Cole’s actress girlfriend has prioritised her acting career over being with him, and he’s not sure if she is coming back or if he wants her back as time goes on. Meanwhile, at work, Felicity, the granddaughter of a prominent High Court judge, has gone missing – and there is enormous pressure from the grandfather and the police bosses to solve the case and bring home the twenty-one-year-old alive and well. But trying to investigate her disappearance is like operating with their hands tied behind their backs; as Cole and his team discover many things don’t add up. The grandfather won’t allow them to properly search the home and is clearly hiding something. But what exactly is he hiding? And what of his wife’s suicide? And what does ‘Scotland’ mean, the last words uttered by Felicity before she went missing?

As time goes on with no leads and just more dead ends, the case of a murdered drug dealer adds more complications for Cole and his team. And as Cole investigates these crimes, he is drawn closer to his new police colleague Erena Wilkinson, but she is facing challenges in her own personal life and has her young daughter to consider.

One Heart One Spade is an intelligent crime novel that is also partly a historical novel. It brings to life a time with markedly different attitudes than we have now, especially toward women, but is all the more thought-provoking for its realism. It certainly shows how far society has come. One Heart One Spade is a compelling story, the characterisation is extremely well-done, and it’s great to read and have the streets of Wellington in the day come to life.

This novel is also a touching tribute to Alistair’s friend, Miles, who was murdered in Wellington in 1980. It is not Miles’s story, but he appears as a character on the pages and goes on with his life, unlike the author's real-life friend.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan


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