An award-winning writer and producer for television, Donna Malane turned her hand to novels, winning the New Zealand Society of Authors-Pindar Publishing Prize with Surrender, which introduced lead character Diane Rowe.

She returns with the sequel, My Brother’s Keeper, another strong entry in the series captained by the wry voice of Diane and peopled with characters who are fully fashioned and realistic.

It’s an interesting premise: Diane, a missing-persons expert, is asked by an ex-con now out of prison to track down her daughter, Sunny. Karen Mackie fears the girl may be in danger.

Diane doesn’t have difficulty finding the girl, living with her father, stepmother and stepbrother in Auckland, an hour’s plane ride away. But Karen asks Diane to meet the girl first and pave the way for a possible reconcilation.

It’s a tough sell, and the family situation is more complicated than Diane would like. In fact, everything’s a bit complicated in Diane’s life right now, with her friendly ex-husband, Sean, needing their house sold; her current boyfriend, Robbie, becoming friendly with both her dog, Wolf, and her ex; and then there’s the good-looking stepson of Karen’s dead mother she meets in Auckland.

It’s enough to drive a gal to distraction. But fortunately, and despite at one point coming under the Auckland PD radar, Diane manages to put it all together, but with considerable danger to herself and before she can stop a murder.

This is a complex plot and the book, which starts out with a simple premise, rapidly becomes so much more, aided by snippets of memory in flashbacks from a young Sunny, explaining why Karen was in prison.

A chilling twist at the end provides an engrossing climax with a character who will have you hooked with her engaging voice and waiting to read more of Diane Rowe.