The Call

Cover Image: The Call

Winner of the Allen & Unwin Fiction Prize 2023

After surviving a brutal attack, Auckland cop DS Honey Chalmers has returned to her hometown to care for her mother. The remote coastal settlement of Waitutu holds complicated memories for Honey, not least the tragic suicide of her younger sister, Scarlett. And Honey’s relationship with her formidable mother is fraught to say the least.

Honey is hardest on herself regarding the attack that nearly killed her. She let herself get too close to a Reapers gang informant. She got sloppy. And she’s pretty sure the informant, mother-of-three Kloe Kovich, paid the price. But when a couple of gang heavies turn up in Waitutu, Honey realises they are hoping she will lead them to Kloe. This means that Kloe is alive and on the run after all.

When Honey catches up with her oldest friend, Marshall, her feelings are complicated. As teenagers they were inseparable, but Marshall was the last person to see Scarlett alive, and there are rumours they were sleeping together, that he broke her heart. Marshall was said to have joined the army, to have gone to Western Australia, to have been married or sent to prison - or all of the above.

Marshall has worked hard to reinvent himself and he and Honey grow close. But Honey can’t help digging into the past, and the more she discovers, the more she fears Marshall is not who she wants him to be. Eventually she learns the awful truth about the events that led her sister to take her own life.

Then Kloe arrives in Waitutu and reveals to Honey that she has proof tying the gang to a wealthy businessman with political connections. Honey and Marshall must work together to try and keep the hapless Kloe out of the hands of those who want her silenced. The scene is set for a final confrontation with a shocking outcome.

Tautly plotted, with a killer ending, The Call takes the reader into the seedy underbelly of gang culture - and introduces a major new talent in crime writing.