Monday, March 5, 2018


CRYSTAL REIGN by Kelly Lyndon (Remnant Press, 2018)

Reviewed by Harold Bernard

Former Navy Lieutenant Commander and MMA instructor David Johnson has it all: an amazing wife, three beautiful kids and a great job. He’s the man who can handle anything, and anyone – until his wife Chrissie is introduced to methamphetamine at a friend’s New Year's Eve party. Slowly but surely, everything David has worked for and believed in is dramatically eroded as Chrissie’s ad­diction takes hold.

Then Chrissie disappears without a trace. In his effort to find her, David gets drawn into the dark world of meth. As the months pass, he becomes more and more afraid that she has been killed, and that the police will suspect him for her murder.

The story of one man's fight to save his family from the drug that is engulfing and destroying New Zealand society

This is a powerful and gripping book about David, an ex-naval officer, martial arts expert, and engineer, who is faced with a horrible situation when Chrissie, his beautiful wife and mother to their three children is introduced to methamphetamine at a new year’s party.

Her addiction soon becomes uncontrollable and she spirals downward, dragging the family into her personal hell. Her $1000 a day habit costs the family everything that they own financially, including their home, and her personal training business.

Personally, it costs Chrissie much more; she loses the trust of her husband and family. Her friends desert her and the parents of the netball team she coaches shun her and withdraw their children. Her physical appearance deteriorates, her teeth are decayed and even the clothes she wears are dirty and slovenly. She is covered in sores which she has made herself thinking there are demons under her skin. She is reduced to having sex with her supplier in exchange for the drug.

Finally, she is jailed for possessing and selling methamphetamine and appears to have withdrawn from the drug in prison. However immediately after release she falls back into her drug habit worse than before.

Things get even darker for David when Chrissie’s handbag is found floating in Auckland harbour and the police are searching for her body. Suspicion falls on David who the police believe is to blame for her disappearance.

How he copes with this and his own battles with alcohol make for a gripping story that captured me as a reader. David and his children survive thanks to his friends and a generous employer.

The book weaves many familiar facets of New Zealand life, such as All Black matches, commonwealth games, and news events, into a story I could easily relate to, although I found some of the dialogue between Kiwi men a bit stilted and not quite realistic.

Overall this is a very good book and having been a health professional I found the drug scenes and the portrayal of people in the scene very realistic.

I would recommend this book to everyone because it is a believable story about a drug that is tearing the heart out of more and more New Zealanders and their families. It shows that even successful, professional people can lose everything – not just financially but including their self-respect, their families, and every facet of their life.

This review was first published in FlaxFlower reviews, which focuses on in-depth reviews of New Zealand books, and is reprinted here with kind permission. 

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