Cross Fingers by Paddy Richardson
Cross Fingers is a superb psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages into the wee hours. Feisty TV journalist Rebecca Thorne has been working on a documentary about a shady property developer and she’s making good progress on a piece that might even win her another award. She’s just about to embark on a dream holiday to Rarotonga with her boyfriend, Rolly.
But the holiday results in a marriage proposal and then a break-up, and when they get back to New Zealand jilted Rolly appears to be stalking her at every turn. There are the hang ups on her phone, photos sent to her phone of their holiday, and there are strange noises in her home in the middle of the night. She resolves to ignore the increasing creepiness and focus on her work. But then her boss insists that she drop her property development piece to do a documentary about the 1981 Springbok Tour – but this has been covered many times before and she despairs about ever finding a fresh angle. All seems hopeless until she focuses on two anonymous protestors called The Lambs and learns that one of them, the Black Lamb, disappeared. Finally she has her hook – but she has no idea how dangerous things are about to get. There are people out there who don’t want her to uncover the truth.
The tension in this novel is palpable and the drama escalates until you reach the well-crafted end. Pacey and original, the main story will keep you on the edge of your seat. But Cross Fingers is also a novel that explores a period of New Zealand history at one of its most difficult times. The Springbok tour divided families and Paddy Richardson captures the raw emotion and violence of that difficult period. This is first-rate writing – Rebecca is a complicated protagonist, both tough and vulnerable, funny and forthright. The plot line is suspenseful but with plenty of depth – and the writing is completely compelling. I’d highly recommend this world-class novel for its excellent plot line and vivid voice.