Like tectonic activity that shaped the New Zealand archipelago, personal seismic forces separated a Kiwi family four decades ago. A man left his wife and twin daughters to marry a Chinese woman. They produced Lin --- “[k]ind Alison and prickly, elegant Vivienne” Mere’s unwanted paternal sibling. Their common father takes infant Lin to the States when his new wife deserts him and returns to Macau, losing touch with his Kiwi twins, and dies when Lin is 12.
Now, her mother loses “inexorably, one marble at a time,” and Lin finds in her mother’s personal effects a photo of her father when he lived in New Zealand. That photo background depicts a painting titled The Road to Ngatirua. “The painting is of a road zigzagging up a hill,” Lin’s arduous metaphoric uphill trek. Searching the Web, she learns the artist’s name is Rose Mere, the first wife of Lin’s father.
...an astounding thriller that has zigzag plot twists rivaling the hairpin turns depicted in The Road to Ngatirua."
Having always wanted to reestablish contact with her Kiwi stepsisters, and now at age 39, Lin discovers that the address where her father had lived in Wellington is for rent. She returns to the “land of hope and plenty,” and shrewd business acumen in the “corporate testosterone” arena lands her employment as the CEO to launch telecom startup Hera. But “climbing that ladder, rung by rung,” Lin learns that “Corporate psychopaths don’t need to use their hands to murder people in order to get what they want.”
Family and career choices combined would be a dilemma. Lin’s third element is Ben, “the man I chose to give up when they offered me the job.” But her corporate success brings affluence. “Ben is not the romantic type,” but picks wild flowers for Lin, the only gift he can afford. Lin muses, “When I wanted to show how I felt, I bought him things he couldn’t afford. When I spend money, I feel in control.” Their rekindled romance becomes strained, when Ben says, “You’re as bad as Vivienne.” And readers come to see the real Lin through her actions. She makes calculated executive choices for her personal life that have profound ramifications for others.
The publisher defines trilemma as a difficult choice from three options. This definition sets the stage for debut novelist Jennifer Mortimer’s TRILEMMA, an astounding thriller that has zigzag plot twists rivaling the hairpin turns depicted in The Road to Ngatirua.
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on February 14, 2014