Monday, November 14, 2022

Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: The Water’s Dead by Catherine Lea

Catherine Lea is an Auckland, New Zealand, author of crime fiction. Her first book about Detective Inspector Nyree Bradshaw is The Water’s Dead (Brakelight Press, 2022). Bradshaw is a late 40s divorced woman who has come up through the ranks of the police force, fighting entrenched misogynism all the way. On a rainy night she’s called to the site of a suspected homicide: a couple of tourists found the bound body of a young woman at the foot of a waterfall in a fast-flowing river. Nothing in her clothing suggested an identity but the elaborate tattoo on her chin told Bradshaw the victim was Maori. And thus begins a complex, action-filled piece of crime fiction.

The police easily learn that the victim is Huia Coburn, daughter of a Maori man and a European woman. Huia had been spending time with her father, wanting to learn more about her Maori heritage. A significant thread in the story is the Maori people’s struggle to maintain their independence and way of life.

Huia was living with a cousin and was caring for her cousin’s six-year-old daughter while the cousin worked nights. Bradshaw was alarmed to learn that the child was missing and had last been seen with Huia. Even worse, the child is insulin dependent. The search for the lost girl quickly assumes precedence over the search for Huia’s killer and everything else the local police are working on.

To complicate matters, the early release from prison and prompt disappearance of a killer who had vowed revenge on Bradshaw for putting him behind bars makes her safety, as well as that of the other witnesses against the career criminal, questionable. The temporary assignment of a senior detective who is envious of Bradshaw’s success to her station makes her blood pressure soar.

A police procedural with layers. The nuances and politics of the police detective bullpen are vivid and lifelike. Bradshaw is a character of great depth; she is a woman with places to go and things to do. Lea’s description of New Zealand reminded me that the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was filmed there; it’s a beautiful country, and Lea tells us all about it. Another excellent piece of Kiwi crime fiction. Recommended.


·         ASIN: B09R96Q3LR

·         Publisher: Brakelight Press; 1st edition (February 9, 2022)

·         Publication date: February 9, 2022

·         Language: English

·         File size: 1643 KB


Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2022

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

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