Sunday, February 11, 2018

Book Review: 'The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton' by Katherine Hayton

New Zealand author Katherine Hayton stepped 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 was able to relate this mystery with such deft control of language and interaction of her very fascinating characters indicated all the elements of success for her future as an author who just may find in time that creative writing trumps the Insurance business! Having read her other novels FOUND, NEAR WATER and BREATHE AND RELEASE 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 THE THREE DEATHS OF MAGDALENE LYNTON 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 curb watching it all happen as it unfolds. That is how very real and present she can mold her fantastical stories. This latest novel signals a series – The Ngaire Blakes Mysteries – so anchor in on the characters she builds and be ready to follow the path she is setting.

Katherine provides the synopsis for this story: ‘Forty years ago Magdalene Lynton drowned in a slurry. She choked to death as her hands scrabbled for purchase on the smooth concrete walls. A farmhand discovered her bloated body three days later. Or she didn't. Paul Worthington just confessed to her murder. Forty years ago Magdalene Lynton died in a dirty shed. He smothered her life along with her cries for help and tossed her defiled corpse into a river when he was done. Or he didn't. As Detective Ngaire Blakes investigates the death, she discovers clues that won't piece together with either version. Gaps, inconsistencies, lies. And forty years have eroded more than memories. Is it possible to uncover the third death of Magdalene Lynton when time has eaten away at the evidence? And will the person responsible let Ngaire live long enough to try?’

So meet our heroine sleuth – ‘Ngaire Blakes refused to check her watch. She’d looked just ten minutes ago. At least, she hoped it was ten minutes. In the reception room of the Christchurch Central Police Station, time crawled. A multigenerational family waited for the detective sergeant in charge of its case. Mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and four children under twelve. The women sat and chatted in soft voices, while the kids built a fort from the orange plastic chairs, stacking them one on top of the other to form a barricade. All was well until the eldest boy tried to clamber up and over to gain entry. Ngaire closed her eyes to slits as the bottom chair sagged under the weight, and the topmost tilted, throwing him to the floor. His face contorted with pain, and he gripped his leg, rolling back and forth. When his great-grandmother bent to pat his shoulder, the electricity built up from the utilitarian carpet rubbing against his sweatshirt crackled.’

A lesson on how to build a mystery as shared by the master/mistress! Tap into Katherine Hayton’s gift. Grady Harp, April 16

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.