Des Hunt’s new book is set in Christchurch, present day, ten years after the earthquakes. The two main characters: Cassi and Quinn both suffered trauma in the earthquakes that still affects them ten years later. Cassi runs in the Red Zone as there’s nothing left to fall on her should another quake happen and Quinn prefers to be online than with people. They both have an eating disorder.
Between their respective houses is a house that has never been repaired and is said to be haunted. Cassi’s curiosity gets the better of her and with Quinn’s help she breaks into the garage. Her initial motive is to rescue a trapped cat but they soon realise something dodgy is going on.
The main plotline is about Cassi and Quinn’s investigation into the illegal theft and export of NZ protected species for the Chinese alternative medicine market. The narrative is fast-paced and exciting. I found myself reading too fast as I wanted to know what would happen next.
Cassi and Quinn are only 12 years old and thus have some limitations on their investigations, but Hunt has a cast of sympathetic adult characters helping Cassi and Quinn. Jim the ex-reporter now whitebait fisherman strikes up a rapport with Cassi, and Matiu the tow truck driver proves to be an invaluable ally. The tit-for-tat mischief between the criminals and Cassi and Quinn’ team adds humour to the story.
Hunt has done thorough research for writing this book. I had recently been to Christchurch and could identify easily with the setting.
Hunt also touches on themes of bullying and the behaviour behind it, eating disorders and family break-ups.
Red Edge would make a fantastic read aloud for Years 6-9. It is a story that initially hooks the reader straight away and through heightened tension keeps them reading.
Title: Red Edge
Author: Des Hunt
Publication: September 2020
Reviewer: Nova Gibson, Library Manager, Massey Primary School
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
Opening line: Cassi Whelan slowed from her running, feeling the first twinge of cramp.