Written by: Alistair Luke
Reviewed by: Jo Lucre
One Heart One Spade captures the mood of the 70s well, an era with distinctly different attitudes and a different vibe. But despite this, it’s still uniquely Wellington as the story plays out across the streets and suburbs of the capital. Its backdrop is critically local, lending gravitas to the gritty urban feel of the crime story and to the lead characters, who feel sublimely present.
One Heart One Spade centres around the disappearance of Felicity ‘Flick’ Daniels, the missing granddaughter of a retired judge, and Detective Lucas Cole and colleagues as they investigate her disappearance. Interwoven between is the investigation of one of their own when it appears he is connected to the murder of a local drug dealer.
Alistair Luke paints a vivid picture of each character. There’s Felicity’s grandfather McEwan, poised with all the airs and graces you would expect from someone used to having power over others. His disdain for Felicity’s boyfriend Miles Weston is palpable. McEwan derisively describes Miles as a “hippie”, a “bangle-wearer”, and a shoeless one at that. Yes, by McEwan’s accounts, Miles is a wasteful person, much like the “wasters” he has spent his whole life putting away. But McEwan’s fawning preoccupation for his homegrown roses – even after his supposedly beloved granddaughter is missing – and reluctance to open up Felicity’s room in his house makes him stand out in his own right as an oddball when detectives question him about Felicity’s disappearance.
One Heart One Spade sometimes feels a little stunted, with conversations between characters intersecting a little too briefly, too succinctly, running too closely into each other. I found I wanted just a bit more out of the narrative. Regardless, the mysterious, compelling tale of the missing 21-year-old Felicity, her conceited grandfather and ex-judge with secrets to hide, and a dogged detective in the form of Lucas Cole is inviting.
It’s where the detective’s professional and personal life begins and ends that draws you in, as too does his burgeoning relationship with his new colleague Erena Wilkinson.