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The Runaway Man by Kelly Tantau Cranthorpe


When New Zealand author Kelly Tantau first envisioned this novel, her inspiration was the natural world that surrounds her rural Waikato home. Kelly is a Paeroa-based journalist working for the local newspaper Valley Profile. She graduated from the University of Waikato in 2015 with a major in Writing Studies and has recently been named Best Senior News Journalist at the Community Newspaper Association Awards, and Joint Runner-Up for Community Journalist of the Year at the NZ Voyager Media Awards. So, the girl can write!


And this was recently underscored when she was signed to UK agency Cranthorpe Millner Publishers who published this, her first novel. I say first, because, like me, the publishers envision this will be the first of a series of detective novels. I’m not surprised. This much was clear to me as I read the book. I kept feeling that it would be a great series.


Tantau is an exciting new writer. Her settings, characters and – of course - the descriptions of the forest to which the book’s central character, Nick Greene, escapes all feel very authentic. There were times when I wanted to strike out a word or two here and there. It was almost as if she was trying too hard, but overall I was hooked by the mystery of the young man’s deliberate disappearance and felt the building horror of his impending spiral of doom throughout.


When the death of a fisherman causes Nick to flee from his makeshift forest camp to a nearby town, he falls in with his young neighbour at the seedy motel, Marina, all the while increasingly aware from news bulletins that he is being pursued by a detective from his home-town. It is this detective, haunted as he is by a previous major career failure, who is the reluctant hero of the book and likely series. All the while he is being taunted by a senior cop brought in to solve Nick Greene’s disappearance, he is gently probing the young man’s odd family dynamics and relationships. The reader is completely drawn in by the mystery of Nick Greene’s relationship with his parents and sister, and also with his former girlfriend. Why did he go bush when his life seemed so happy and stable?


You’ll have to find that out for yourself...


Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Millner Publishers



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