Ten Books: New Zealand Crime Fiction

As a salute to the Murder They Wrote event this Thursday (it’s not too late to get tickets!), here are ten New Zealand crime novels, some newish, some nostalgic (for a list of New Zealand mystery writers, visit the New Zealand fiction page here).

  1. Blood Men, Paul Cleave (2010) – Edward Hunter is the son of a serial killer, a fact he’s been trying to suppress, until his life spirals out of control after a tragedy.
  2. Captured, Neil Cross (2010) – Kenny is 40-ish and dying of cancer, so he creates a list of people to make things right with, including a woman who, it turns out, disappeared years ago.
  3. Containment, Vanda Symon (2009) – When shipping containers wash up on the beach at Aramoana, Detective Constable Sam Shephard must investigate the body that washes up with them.
  4. The Shadow World, P.C. Laird (2007) – The fictionalised story of the killing of a young Japanese man in Auckland in 2003 by several of his fellow students.
  5. Island of Fear, Freda Bream (1982) – Island of Fear is set on an island north east of Auckland, where Judy Marling is a recent arrival in fear of her life after a series of unexplained deaths. All things being fair in murder mysteries, the Rev Jabal Jarrett himself even becomes a suspect.
  6. Miramar Morning, Denis Edwards (2005) – Two crimes years apart mingle in this story of “the dark underbelly of New Zealand society in what were supposedly innocent times.” (Google Books)
  7. Murder and Chips, Laurie Mantell (1980) – Set in Wellington and featuring Detective Sergeant Steve Arrow. You’re thinking it’s chips as in fish and chips but no, the body is found in a pile of woodchips.
  8. A Man Lay Dead, Ngaio Marsh (1934) – Guests at Sir Hubert Handesley’s estate are playing a whodunnit game, when an actual murder happens and Roderick Alleyn must, for the first time, find out whodunnit.
  9. Deadlines, Gaelyn Gordon (1996) – The fifth novel featuring Detective Senior Sergeant Rangi Roberts and Detective Constable Ashley Pike finds Roberts puzzling over who killed the annoying writer of numerous letters to the university (who happens to be his neighbour), and in the throes of a relationship with Julia, a literary agent.
  10. Golden Deeds, Catherine Chidgey (2000) – A bit different: not quite a murder mystery, although there is a mystery and there has been a murder, which very slowly reveals itself in amongst cleverly interwoven multi-generational stories, including that of Laura’s parents, still coming to terms with her disappearance, Colette, who’s just moved to the big city, and Patrick, an expert in illuminated manuscripts who’s unconscious in hospital.

1 thought on “Ten Books: New Zealand Crime Fiction”

  1. Nice list; a good mix of new and old, well-known and overlooked. Great to see you include Freda Bream and Laurie Mantell. I also hadn’t realised that Gaelyn Gordon had written that many novels featuring Detective Senior Sergeant Rangi Roberts – I will have to get my hands on a few more.

    It’s great to see NZ crime/mystery fiction getting more attention, and with up to 12-15 crime/thrillery/mystery novels being released by Kiwi citizens or residents, here and overseas, in 2009, hopefully it will continue to go from strength to strength.

    We have plenty of other great authors, both in print and out-of-print, including the likes of Paul Thomas, Alix Bosco, Dorothy Fowler, Lindy Kelly, Edmund Bohan, Andrew Grant, Colin D. Peel, and many, many more.

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