Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: 'Breathe and Release' by Katherine Hayton

New Zealand author Katherine Hayton steps away from her career in the Insurance field to make her debut with a complex and challenging novel SKELETAL that takes place in her home town of Christchurch, New Zealand. The plot is a unique one and the fact that Katherine has been able to relate this mystery with such deft control of language and interaction of her very fascinating characters bodes well for her future as an author who just may find in time that creative writing trumps the Insurance business! Having read her other novel FOUND, NEAR WATER this reader was prepared for Katherine's inordinately keen attention to details. How she can take rather monstrous incidents and make them read like fine literature rather than simply terrifying tales is one of her many gifts.

Now with BREATHE AND RELEASE she continues to open new windows into the realm of suspense, mystery, and extremes of physical and psychological behavior, all the while giving the reader the sense of standing on the cub watching it all happen as it unfolds. That is how very real and present she can mold her fantastical stories.

Katherine provides the synopsis for this story: `Elisabet wakes with amnesia. The care offered to her by a husband she doesn't remember descends within weeks into aggression and violence. Lillian lies hogtied in an underground cell. Forget about escape; unless she can manage the necessities of life she'll be dead within days. Kristen lost her house, her friends, and her confidence when her parents separated. Now her injured stepmother has moved back in. Has she lost her memory, or lost her mind? Will the secrets hidden in Elisabet's locked memory be enough to set them all free?'

Instead of attempting to outguess Katherine's inimitable way of unwinding a mystery, it is preferable to go with the flow. Her writing style to superb as is evidenced in the way in the first paragraphs describing the initial format of Elizabet's amnesia: `Elisabet woke for the first time one morning. An odd occurrence given she was an adult woman; but while she knew that, she didn't know much else. She had no memories. There was a lot of knowledge in her head, untethered, but there were no memories to accompany it except for those she'd formed since waking. They'd been uniformly bad.' And from this rather sterile ICU setting Katherine invites us to stay close by as all the fascinating characters involved in this well-hewn mystery evolve. the manner in which Katherine unfolds this mystery is very fine quality writing. She grows with each novel. In short time her name will be ranked with the big ones like Agatha Christie, Tana French, Patricia Highsmith et al. Grady Harp, September 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.