Published by Oak House Press on August 27, 2017
Purchase From: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or The Book Depository
'She looked away from his face and took in the clear spring night, full of stars. Her last thoughts were of her mother. Would she finally care, when one day they found her body, and a policeman came knocking at her door?'
The body of missing tourist Bethany Haliwell is found in the small Coromandel town of Castle Bay, where nothing bad ever happens. News crews and journalists from all over the country descend on the small seaside town as old secrets are dragged up and gossip is taken as gospel.Among them is Miller Hatcher, a journalist battling her own demons, who arrives intent on gaining a promotion by covering the grisly murder. Following an anonymous tip, Miller begins to unravel the mystery of the small town. And when another woman goes missing, Miller finds herself getting closer to the truth. But at what cost?
A woman’s body is found in a small town in the Coromandel. Journalist Miller Hatcher is dispatched to do an in-depth story on the discovery and its effect on the sleepy little town. Needless to say, Miller bites off more than she can chew, and soon finds herself in the middle of even more drama.
First, let me say that I was eager to read this debut novel from New Zealand author, Nikki Crutchley. I loved that it wasn’t Americanized – the spelling, the terminology, all authentic Kiwi (and there’s even a mention of my actual hometown!). I’m fairly certain that after a nine-year absence from my home country, my accent got a little bit stronger thanks to this read, and boy – what a read!
We’re immediately pulled in with a little first-person insight into missing Bethany, then introduced to the former big-city turned small-town cop, Kahu Parata. I was a little put off by the repeated mentions/explanations of Mr Parata’s ten years in Castle Bay (about three-four times in the first couple of chapters). I felt it didn’t bode well. Fortunately, I’d been sufficiently intrigued by Bethany, so I persevered and I’m glad for it. Once Nothing Bad Happens Here got going, I found it difficult to put down.
Ms. Crutchley gives us plenty of suspects and plenty of misdirection, with more than a handful of totally unlikeable characters – and I love (love!) unlikeable characters. There’s our flawed protagonist, a creepy pot-dealing handyman, the expected nosy small-town gossips, an orchard owner with a sordid past, a couple of super weird parents and a revolving door of tourists and seasonal workers. You’re constantly being handed someone to suspect, but Ms. Crutchley does it in such a manner that you’re not bogged down by the additional characters or the misdirection and at least part of the big twist was one I certainly didn’t expect.
All in all, Nothing Bad Happens Here is a well written and enjoyable easy read. Miller’s story draws you in and keeps you there. I kind of hope this is part of a series, but I am looking forward to seeing more from Ms. Crutchley whether Miller is a part of it or not.
One word of warning – if you’re not a Kiwi, read up on some of the country’s slang (and possibly Maori pronunciation) first. Or hit me up, and I’ll be happy to give you a primer!