Lifting by Damien Wilkins

Intriguing and compelling.

The closing of a long-term Wellington department store — family-run then bought and sold several times — is the backdrop for this novel. Wilkins' portrayal of store employees negotiating their way out of the mess is one we can probably all identify with, whether it's personally having lost a job in a similar restructure or just knowing someone who has. The stress of the imminent closure, and the choices 'head office' makes are familiar themes these days.

The story is told through its main character, Amy, a new mother and store detective who has a dodgy past. Throughout are questions, discussions, and clarifications with a couple of police detectives, who are interviewing Amy about 'what happened at Cutty's'.

Wilkins doesn't use chapter breaks, only white space, to break the narrative, so the pace is fast and the story-within-story is fascinating as the reader tries to guess why Amy is being interviewed — but not as a suspect.

Lifting has a whole parade of characters, from questionable front doormen to the grand old dame who's the last of the Cutty family, but try not to race to the end to find out 'why' — the end of an era often comes too quickly anyway.

by Jen