Straight and Level by Penelope Haines (A Claire Hardcastle Mystery Book 2)


The sequel to “Death on D’Urville,” and flying instructor and pilot extraordinaire, Claire Hardcastle is involved in another adventure.

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Claire’s partner, Jack, has been sent on secondment for a month to the Solomon’s and Claire plans to use the time he’s away to settle down to her studies, observe Dry July and think about the direction in which their passionate relationship is heading.

If only life were that simple!

The night Claire meets newly arrived property developer Jim Mason is also the night she has a chance conversation with investigative journalist Andrew Camborne, who’s been researching reports of crime and corruption on the Kapiti Coast. A short time later, Claire is witness to an altercation between the two men. The next morning, Andrew’s dead body is found on a Paraparaumu Street. Is the cause of death accident, or homicide?

Claire’s just taken on Jim’s teenage daughter, Melody, as a flying student, so she desperately hopes Andrew’s death is accidental, but rumours are circulating that suggest Jim and his company might be central to an upsurge of crime and corruption occurring in Kapiti.

Informers have reported ‘something big’ is being planned by the local gangs, and police are anxious to discover what this is. In addition to instructing students and flying charters, Claire and her aircraft are recruited to help the police with surveillance work. Unfortunately, aircraft, and the pilots who fly them, are easily identifiable, and Claire is vulnerable. A particularly vicious attempt to intimidate her knocks her confidence badly as she tries to understand who would have cause to attack her. The only bright spot on the horizon is that Jack will be home in a couple of days.

A botched police raid results in fugitive criminals abducting Claire and forcing her to fly them to the safety of a remote hideout. They’ve kidnapped Melody as well, to use as a negotiating tool with her father. Thrust forcibly into a world of eco-terrorism, drug-smuggling and violence, the two women have to use all their initiative to survive. Claire’s skill and courage as a pilot is put to the ultimate test as she and Melody seek to extricate themselves from their plight.


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