Monday, April 3, 2017


THE SECOND STAGE OF GRIEF by Katherine Hayton (2016)

Reviewed by Alyson Baker

A false accusation. A brutal murder. Can Ngaire find a killer before he finds her? Ngaire Blakes is trying to put her life back together. The ex-cop resigned from the police after a vicious assault left her battling PTSD. Dragged into a murder investigation, she’s shocked to discover that all the evidence points to her.

When the body count climbs, Ngaire flees to the cold comfort of her estranged father’s hometown. In danger and not knowing who to trust, she severs contact with her closest allies and must learn to rely on herself if she’s going to catch the killer before it’s too late.

The second in Hayton’s Ngaire Blakes series and another great read!  Ngaire is still coming to terms with traumas suffered prior to and during the first installment (THE THREE DEATHS OF MAGDALENE LYNTON) and is working temporarily in a law firm.

When two horrific murders put her in the frame as a suspect she bolts up North to seek refuge with her estranged father Patariki, and his just about off-the-grid mates. We learn more about Ngaire’s background – not only her Dad but also her wannabe actress Mum Maralyn, who lives in Los Angeles. With Ngaire up North the novel is run in parallel, with her police mates in Christchurch investigating the murders and her trying to piece things together in her new hostile environment.

Both victims were counsellors Ngaire had consulted, and when a long-ago former colleague is attacked the pieces start falling into place – but probably not soon enough for Ngaire to escape becoming a victim herself. Especially given that those back in Christchurch are following a false trail – or are they?

The plotting is very clever, the resolutions of the various plot-lines satisfying – and in one case quite chilling – and there are some genuinely thrilling, and moving, moments. As with the previous book Ngaire is a flawed character who is not great at fitting in or reading those around her, but again those around her see her in a better light than she sees herself. The end hints at more Blakes mysteries – here’s hoping!

Alyson Baker is a crime-loving librarian in Nelson. This review first appeared on her blog, which you can check out here

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