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Reviewed by Daniel Lovewell
Opening sentence
The first of a promising new series
I really enjoy spy novels, and New Zealand authors, so I was excited to pick up Whiskey Lima Golf by Darin Dance. This is an exciting story set in Wellington. The call sign for Wellington (WLG) is Whiskey Lima Golf, which holds a special significance for author Darin Dance, given his military service background. Dance is an accomplished writer who has mentored up-and-coming writers as well as having his own successful writing career. In this spy thriller, the author sets the story in Wellington to provide readers with a very relatable setting.

The plot revolves around Tom Yelich, a wounded war veteran, and his close friend who are unexpectedly drawn into the darkness of Wellington's crime scene. This turns out to involve international espionage. Dance has done a great deal of research to help make this novel authentic, even drawing on contacts within the criminal underworld. While the story is definitely fiction, the core information is based on the reality of these environments.

One area I question is the portrayal of Tom living with his grandfather in the Wellington railway station, which I feel doesn’t seem completely realistic. Nevertheless, I found myself being lured into the world of the 'White Rabbit' investigative team, with this first book hooking me in to want to read the series as it comes out. Darin Dance's use of Te Reo Māori throughout feels right, and it is a clever way to reinforce the New Zealand setting and highlight the importance of our Māori culture.

I really liked that this book has a Māori main character. Tom is someone to admire - he’s intelligent, capable, and kind. The book celebrates the richness and diversity of New Zealand's culture and gives readers a refreshing perspective within a crime fiction novel. Dance's experience as a writer and his knowledge of the intelligence field come through in his writing, making Whiskey Lima Golf an engaging and exciting read for fans of the spy fiction genre.

I think Whiskey Lima Golf would appeal to readers 13 years and up, and even if spy fiction isn’t normally your go-to I think a wide range of Kiwi teens will enjoy this story because it is so well written and the Wellington setting makes it familiar and relatable. I am so glad I read this, and now look forward to reading the next White Rabbit Investigations novel.

- Daniel is 14 and lives in Masterton
Author & Illustrator: Darin Dance
Publisher: Bach Doctor Press
ISBN: 9780473644024
Format: Paperback
Publication: September 2022
Ages: 13+
Themes: Spy fiction, crime, thriller, Wellington setting