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In Lifting, by Damien Wilkins, a store detective roams a huge department store in Wellington set to close after decades of success.
Victoria University Press
By MIKE CROWL
A huge department store in Wellington called Cutty's is about to close after decades of successful retailing.
Amy, one of the store detectives, is the main human focus in the book, and we move between the various elements of her life: her job and her expertise in it; her ageing mother and her unpleasant sisters; her stoic, solemn baby and her loved and generally delightful husband; a period in the past when she and some other young female activists tried to damage a pig farm.
Running behind all these is a more recent incident relating to the closing of the store: Amy is being questioned about it by ``real'' detectives.
Wilkins keeps a firm hand on all these elements as they mingle and mix in an ever-shifting collage. His characters are sharply drawn and strikingly observed, and they tell all manner of stories, some hilarious, some disturbing; some related to shoplifting, many not.
But while the book is certainly entertaining, it doesn't quite seem to have a skeleton holding the whole thing together.
In the end I think, as a reader, you take it all in your stride and enjoy the world Wilkins invites you into. He remains one of our more diverting authors.
Mike Crowl is a Dunedin author, musician and composer.