You remember where you were when you heard of them – events so momentous you just know the world would never be the same again. For the Kennedy assassination I was asleep, woken by a teary mother with the sad news. For the death of Elvis, on my birthday I might add, I was enjoying a celebratory sudsy bath, but that soon changed when the radio told me of his untimely passing. With Whitlam’s dismissal, I had just come off class for the morning break when a teaching colleague, heading out to playground duty, imparted the news on passing. For this one, though, I was away from home, helping out on a school trip to the big island across the water. Someone had turned the tele on that morning in the staff quarters just as we were about to go out and wake up the students in their cabins at the Canberra camp-site. That was delayed as we took in the events and the repeated shocking images of the towers collapsing. As we eventually did the rounds, waking up the troops, we imparted the tragic tidings to our charges. I remember on the bus heading south to our next destination, Echuca, the driver had the wireless on a news channel so we could keep abreast of what was happening. Soon the students started ya-yaing for their music tapes, so I was in blackout till we reached the Murray. I felt as though my throat had been cut. Had it occurred today I’d be rivetted to some hand device en route.
So she was obliterated, wasn’t she, on that day? Ingrid had an appointment with her accountant during those fateful hours, either somewhere in the Twin Towers or nearby. After that date, she wasn’t seen or heard from again by those who loved her back in Oz. No remains were found. Gay and ailing Ralph, nonetheless, still yearned for her touch as he had been transfixed by her. He was appalled when she headed Stateside to marry the much older, super-sleek gallery owner, Gil Grey. Too ill to travel, he sent off Julia to do some sleuthing for him. He wanted to know every last detail about her life in NYC before the catastrophic event. What our heroine gradually discovered initially unsettled and confused. Then she really started to smell a rat. As she collected evidence Julia came across some very interesting, if flawed, companions of Ingrid’s during her final days. There’s the decipherer of writing who thinks he knows who that rat may be. There is one of Ingrid’s professors, noted for bedding students and colleagues, who succeeds with Julia as well. And what does the mysterious Trinh, another academic, who moonlights as a dominatrix, know about it all? Finally we have Fleur, Ingrid’s stepdaughter who, at four, was a child prodigy with a paintbrush, only to chuck it all in for the camera during her teen years. The more Julia delves, the more she discovers all is not how it seems.
‘ Days of Our Lives’ soap it would seem on the surface, but Kirsten Tranter’s ‘The Legacy’ is in another realm completely compared to that mush. To come by the book I was actually reading a review of her latest, ‘Hold’, which seemed intriguing. It began to niggle me that the author’s name rang a bell. I checked on Goodreads to see it I had read anything by her in recent times, but nothing came up. Then, perusing my bookshelves, I discovered ‘The Legacy’ waiting patiently for me to get to it. So, before I shelled out on her third novel, I decided to see if she had potential by reading this her first, published in 2010.
I found ‘The Legacy’ quite masterful. It’s almost impossible to put down as the mystery of Ingrid’s departure deepens. The pacing is deliciously unhurried, all minutiae examined closely. Therefore it’s a slow-burning thriller and all the better for it – a cut above airport fodder I would imagine. Tranter is far more pre-occupied with the inter-relationships between the characters than she is with the bells and whistles of the genre. As Peter Craven, writing in ‘The Monthly’, opines, it also is ‘…full of suave and stunning evocations of Sydney and Manhattan.’ and as an added bonus, he continues, ‘…, this sparkling and spacious novel captures the smell and sap of young people half in love with everyone they’re vividly aware of, and groping to find themselves like an answer to an erotic enigma.’
I am now in possession of ‘Hold’, as a result, as well as seeking out Kirsten T’s sophomore effort, ‘A Common Loss’. They will not linger on my shelves as long as ‘The Legacy’.
The author’s website = http://www.kirstentranter.com/