Caught Between, Jeannie McLean
Book 1 in a new series featuring Māori / Chinese character Tova Tan, the title of the novel - CAUGHT BETWEEN - is particularly apt. Tan's life is littered with dilemmas, from the dangerous lifestyle of her half-brother, and her desire to stay in touch, maybe help him; to wanting the truth behind her mother's supposed suicide but needing to not rock the boat; and of most immediate threat, returning home to find that she lives downstairs from a mother and daughter, found murdered, and she's the prime suspect.
From an opening that's very attention grabbing, through to finding out who Tan is, the backstory of her family, including her mother's very high profile death, to whatever happened to her landlady Juliette and her teenage daughter Jasmine, the pressure, pace and forward momentum is on from the very first page in CAUGHT BETWEEN.
Cleverly balanced against that is a very good picture of systemic prejudice, and mistrust on many levels, whilst exploring family dysfunction, police disinterest, and the difference that good people can make when they step up to the mark. It's a very complex plot though, but paying attention to that is made easy by such an interesting, real, and engaging cast of characters. As the body count continues to grow, and the threat to Tan becomes more and more personal, Constable Finn McIntosh seems like the only, if not somewhat unlikely ally, she's got.
A police procedural, with accidental detective components, and touches of romance for readers who like that sort of thing, the "caught between" theme extends right through all aspects of this novel, making it a very promising series debut.
The body of sixteen-year-old Jasmine Dunn is washed up on a rocky foreshore in Auckland. The next day, her mother's body is found on a deserted beach.
Tova Tan lives downstairs from the Dunns and was seen arguing with Jasmine. Known to the police following the high-profile death of her mother a year ago, Tova becomes their main suspect. Then the investigating officer unearths a motive that puts her wealthy father under suspicion too.
When Tova's half-brother is also implicated, her loyalty to him drags her deep into his seedy lifestyle. The police suspect Tova knows more than she's telling, although an unlikely ally appears in Constable Finn McIntosh who's less inclined than his colleagues to jump to conclusions.
But can Tova trust him?
Searching her parents' past for a truth that could save her family, Tova finds herself caught in a dangerous and illicit world where she will have to fight for her very survival.