Scorpions in Stilettos by Hinemura Ellison and Ted Hughes
Scorpions in Stilettos is the third book in the Trinity Triology from boutique publishing house Bach Doctor Press. It follows Sharks with Lipsticks and Snakes in Suits, written by the same author duo, Hinemura Ellison and Ted Hughes. This doesn’t mean that you have to have read the other two books to pick this one up and enjoy the story. Each book follows one of a trio of tight-knit besties in Wellington: Sven, Freya and Clara. After Sven’s murder-filled romance, and Freya’s struggle to protect her inheritance, the third book turns to Clara and her whole new tale of affairs, overheard conversations, terrible bosses, earthquakes, past secrets and traumas, and spontaneous international travel.
We meet Clara as she is discovered in the midst of an affair with a married judge (cheating on her boyfriend), as she loses her job, and apparently somewhat accidentally sells her house. Of course, she has to catch up with her besties to immediately spill the goss, and figure out what to do next. She soon has job interviews and we discover her apparent proficiency in her field as she answers every question impeccably. While floating around the streets of Wellington, she just happens to overhear conversations that help her (now ex) lover, the married judge, in his court cases and set the stage for a murder mystery later on… She seems to have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as she also manages to run into a terrifying spectre from her past – her mother’s old friend and a man she’s been scared of since he used to babysit her. Through Clara’s habit of writing therapy poems and her slow but steady admissions to her friends, the reader can gradually start to piece together the traumas that haunt her, see the problems she is facing now, and her complicated family situation. Not to mention, we start to hope there might be finally be a better future in store for Clara…
There’s certainly no dull moment in Scorpions in Stilettos. It’s action-packed and it seems that its spunky heroine has the energy to do just about anything – once she’s had her coffee.
Wellington landmarks are prominent throughout the story, and place names like Lambton Quay, Petone, and the Terrace pop up again and again. Hinemura Ellison is of Māori descent and her dedication to normalising te reo within everyday conversation is apparent in the book. It gives the story a New Zealand vibe. It’s refreshing to read a fiction set so close to home.
Lately, I overheard a conversation at a bookstore in which someone asked for a book to escape the ‘horrors’ of 2020. If you’re looking for escapism, you might want to check this one out. It’ll certainly take you to the far corners of the earth – and will be the only kind of travel many of us will be undertaking at the moment – and into some pretty out-of-the-ordinary situations.
Reviewer: Susannah Whaley
Bach Doctor Press