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Valverde Maclean

Life and love can take us to unexpected places.

"Magenta" by Valverde Maclean

A review by Bryan Hughes:

   The latest book, Magenta, by Valverde Maclean takes the reader on another journey with Suzie and Peter, the "older Australian" lead characters from his earlier well-received mystery "The Disappearance of Merry".  As in the earlier work, the author allows, alternatively, Suzie and Peter, to develop the narrative in the first person from their own perspective. It's an interesting technique, perhaps a little disorientating at first, but one which the reader grows to enjoy, anticipating how each character will react to the plot situation.

   Magenta is actually two books rolled into one. The story is mainly set in the North and Western outback of Australia and the author's fascination with and thorough knowledge of these remote areas is manifested throughout the book.  The reader is treated to a range of discussions, short and long, on the cultures of the varied human experience, on the extraordinary history of the regions, on the truly ancient    Aboriginal rock art, and on the geological wonders that are available to be appreciated by the traveller. The fascinating "horizontal waterfalls" off the Kimberly coast is but one of the natural wonders described in this book.

   As one reads into the book, following Suzie and Peter's holiday explorations, one is slowly, glimpse by glimpse, introduced to a very odd young woman, Magenta. In fact these glimpses seem but an interruption to the main business of the holiday travelogue narration but they are building up to the mystery of the disappearance of a body from a car on a remote Western Australia beach.

   Here, perhaps, is where the "second" book starts: what has happened to the body and Magenta and how are Peter and Suzie involved, and why are they involved?  Interesting characters are introduced, but are they red herrings?  And how will Suzie and Peter resolve their developing relationship...by this time they are sharing a bed, but is Suzie truly comfortable with this situation?

The travelogue and the mystery fuse neatly together to produce a most enjoyable read. And, while solving the mystery, the willing reader may also gain insights into the challenges facing our country people in these remote areas of our continent and an appreciation of their achievements.