Baby Teeth is the first from Zoje Stage, and it’s a wonderful piece of work. Ms Stage fearlessly ties in a couple of common suspense tropes and does so with style. Suzette never really had a proper mother/daughter relationship and spent most of her life dealing with illness, so when Hanna comes along, she is determined to do what is best for her. Only Hanna is a little different. When we first meet her, we learn Hanna is non-verbal. Like most little girls, Hanna’s heart belongs to Daddy. And only Daddy.
Abby Williams is a small-town girl turned environmental lawyer, forced back to her hometown and all the bad memories it entails. Tasked with finding evidence of corruption by the big plastics company that basically owns the town, Abby is mired by memories of high school, where the popular girls, including her best-friend-turned-tormentor, had all been struck down with a mysterious illness before the ringleader disappeared. All of the girls eventually recanted their stories – except for Kaycee. Kaycee disappeared rather than face the music.
OK. Wow. This was a heck of a ride!
We’re first introduced to who we assume to be our narrator – the spurned ex-wife, seemingly stalking her replacement. Then we’re sprung into the narration of Nellie, who we assume to be the replacement our first narrator is stalking. We are warned we shouldn’t make assumptions. And the first thing you need to know is that you should absolutely heed that warning.
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!).