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Sherry Cracker Gets Normal by Dj Connell

(Blue Door, $36.99)Something strange is going on in Sherry Cracker's home town. There's tension in the air - a fiercely contested local body election between corrupt politicians is causing disquiet. Someone

(Blue Door, $36.99)

Something strange is going on in Sherry Cracker’s home town.

There’s tension in the air – a fiercely contested local body election between corrupt politicians is causing disquiet. Someone is taping over the town’s CCTV cameras and graffiti with mysterious messages is appearing on the sidewalks.

Something strange is also going on with Sherry Cracker herself. The tartan-wearing, obsessive note-taker’s boss, or Chin, has told her to “get normal” by the weekend’s end and she’s determined to give it a go.

In Sherry Cracker, Kiwi ex-pat writer DJ Connell has created a heroine you’ll either fall in love with or find a little irritating. An amateur criminologist, Sherry’s an “oddball” and an outsider. She finds respite from the real world by meticulously recording her daily interactions in her observations folder.

She also has a knack for recalling tidbits of information about every subject under the sun, from the year the first parking meter was installed in England to the number of bombs the US dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War.

While these constant diversions from the storyline can be distracting, they also pull us into Sherry’s consiousness and keep us there, waiting for the next installment.

Creating distinctive characters is clearly a knack of DJ’s. Her previous novel, coming-of-age-comedy Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar, drew comparisons to the Adrian oole series and is now being made into a film.

Sherry Cracker’s supporting cast of characters are also engaging – a runaway known as the Little Bastard, Jocelyn de Foiegras, a “gentleman alcoholic”, and the straight-shooting or Chin.

Although Sherry Cracker Gets Normal asks big questions such as “what is normal?” it does so without preaching, or being sugary sweet. It’s a cracker.

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