01 Nov / Kirkus Review
I don’t usually reprint my reviews (if you wanted to see them you could look them up yourself!) but this one is truly the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen so I’m taking a liberty.
In this novel, a victim-support counselor in New Zealand finds that the case of a missing girl takes a bizarre turn when a self-proclaimed psychic gets involved.
Christine Emmett, who was once a psychiatrist until she “realized how futile the entire field was,” is close to burning out in her volunteer work as a victim-support counselor for the North Christchurch region working (uneasily) with police. She also runs a support group for mothers with sick, missing or dead children; her own young daughter died, though readers don’t learn exactly how until the end. She’s increasingly distant from her husband, Gary, who drinks heavily.
Christine drags herself to her next patient, Rena Sutherland, who woke from a coma to find her young daughter missing. Amid the media glare, a woman, claiming to be a psychic, provides police with valuable information. Meanwhile, one support-group member is falling apart because her daughter’s killer has been released. Could he have taken Rena’s child?
As old crimes and tragedies surface, Christine must confront her own past. In her debut novel, Hayton wisely stays away from exploiting her subject for shock value. Rather than describing the disgusting details of crimes against children, she focuses on her characters and how they cope. Her characters are well-drawn, with believable and often heartbreaking histories, warts and all. The portrayals are multilayered. Christine’s cynicism, for example, is clearly a thin mask for her depression, self-hatred and grief but is also bracingly unsentimental, with a side of gallows humor.
Hayton draws subtle, interesting and fruitful parallels between the Christchurch earthquake of 2011 and emotional recovery as her broken characters work to navigate the twisted streets of their broken city. It’s a study in surviving disaster as much as it is a mystery novel. One episode perhaps parallels too closely a scene in Tom Perotta’s Little Children, but it’s a minor fault.
Taut and engrossing, with a tough humanity.
Isn’t it beautiful? Or is that just me?
BTW I would like to state for the record that although I have seen the movie of Little Children (more than once – it does hold up well to re-watching) I didn’t actually remember the scene referenced even after reading this review. I had to trawl through a synopsis on Wikipedia to pinpoint which scene it was.
However, if you’d like to judge for yourself please avail yourself of this fine opportunity to purchase Found, Near Water on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Fishpond or iBooks.
It’s a great book – if you don’t believe me then read the above!