Dr. Mel Johnson and her boyfriend Henry Lotus help a Maori activist Wiremu Wilson escape a police blockade and become involved in a series of interlocking plots between the criminal mastermind of Auckland. Terry Turner, two groups of Maori drug dealers, a Chinese New Zealand family with greenhouses of sinsemilla and the relentless police inspector Bernie Grimble.
Dr. Mel has to decide how far she will go to protect her friends, save her enemies and keep her boyfriend, Henry Lotus whom she had just rescued from New York.
Bodies mount up and fires burn as the great marijuana drought of 1975 descends into a maelstrom of betrayal and violence.
The first story in the Jaded Trilogy, The Jaded Kiwi, is a window into a rapidly changing New Zealand where the aggressive seizures of marijuana crops grown by Wiremu Wilson and his followers goes terribly wrong and the so called war on drugs is both declared and lost with unintended tragic consequences for all involved.
Reviewed by Karen Chisholm
A gynaecologist, a physicist, a violinist and an actress all walk into a pub and help a Maori leader evade the police. With no apologies to anyone for the pun because really, that’s part of what THE JADED KIWI is all about. An absolutely madcap plot, peopled with a cast of seeming thousands and a lot of crazy behaviour.
Heaps of pace where it mattered really helps what’s not so much a complicated plot, as a complex execution, scamper along. Many of the rapidly expanding character set are wonderfully engaging, if not slightly over the top. Whether it’s the gynaecologist paired up with the physicist who find themselves back in his (the physicist’s) home territory, or the bear like violinist with a heart of gold and concern for his musician’s hands, who has gone to New York and back to rescue his girlfriend with the Asian background. All of whom meet up with the Maori fugitive from the law, and somehow find themselves at the centre of a drug war/organised crime sort of plot with stolen cars, mysterious phone calls, and much sneaking around in the back streets and byways.
It’s a very busy story though, and readers will have to concentrate hard to keep up with what seems like an ever expanding cast, to say nothing of some incredibly complicated connections. For this reader, a little pairing down of some of the byways and offshoots may have uncomplicated some elements, allowing the central themes more concentration – and therefore a little more clarity.
However, everything is delivered with great verve, almost gusto, papering over any potential logical cracks with sufficient engagement to make you wonder if you actually saw what you thought you might have just seen. The added bonus is a real feeling of affection for New Zealand and it’s people. All of which makes THE JADED KIWI a debut thriller which shows promise, delivered as it is, with a slightly tongue in cheek, very New Zealander sort of sense of humour, style and language.
Karen Chisholm is one of Australia’s leading crime reviewers