Nobel prize winning author VS Naipaul dies aged 85

Nobel prize winning author V.S. Naipaul died over the weekend. He was acknowledged by all as a master story teller with a sharp eye for the human condition, but he was also a highly controversial figure — his statements on gender, race and Islamic culture were often extreme. He leaves behind a challenging and complicated body of work, his acknowledged masterpiece being A House for Mrs Biswas (link and synopsis below).

You can read obituaries for V.S. Naipaul at the links below:

Syndetics book coverA house for Mr Biswas / V.S. Naipaul ; with an introduction by Karl Miller.A House for Mr. Biswas
“In the comic masterpiece which established him one of the greatest writers in the English language, Naipaul follows the fortunes of Mr Biswas, the outsider who refuses to conform to the customs of his grander in-laws whose house he lives in. Finally finding a house of his own, he triumphs over the smaller minds who would repress him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent Mystery picks

American By Day book cover

The sleuthing world of fiction is well represented this month with a superb crime “line up” of books. The golden age of British crime is wonderfully evoked In Andrew Wilsons A Different Kind Of Evil which has crime writer Agatha Christie herself as the detective in this fourth wall breaking tome. Whilst on a different crime track, the wonderful Rita Mae Brown and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown solve another fur lined mystery in Probable Claws. So put on your deerstalker, unravel a yarn and settle into a great mystery read.

Syndetics book coverProbable claws / Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown ; illustrated by Michael Gellatly.
“With the New Year just around the corner, winter has transformed the cozy Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet, Virginia, into a living snow globe. It’s the perfect setting for Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen to build a new work shed designed by her dear friend, local architect Gary Gardner. But the natural serenity is shattered when out of the blue, right in front of Harry and Deputy Cynthia Cooper, and in broad daylight, Gary is shot to death by a masked motorcyclist. Outraged by the brazen murder, Harry begins to burrow into her friend’s past–and unearths a pattern of destructive greed reaching far back into Virginia’s post-Revolutionary history. When Harry finds incriminating evidence, the killer strikes again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMurder at the Grand Raj Palace / Vaseem Khan.
“For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj. The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder… When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Inspector Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAmerican by day / Derek B. Miller.
“She knew it was a weird place. She’d heard the stories, seen the movies, read the books. But now police Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway and actually go there; to that land across the Atlantic where her missing brother is implicated in the mysterious death of a prominent African-American academic. Sigrid is plunged into a United States where race and identity, politics and promise, reverberate in every aspect of daily life. Working with–or, if necessary, against–the police, she must negotiate the local political minefields and navigate the backwoods of the Adirondacks to uncover the truth before events escalate further.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRage / Zygmunt Miłoszewski ; translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.
“All eyes are on famous prosecutor Teodor Szacki when he investigates a skeleton discovered at a construction site in the idyllic Polish city of Olsztyn. Old bones come as no shock to anyone in this part of Poland, but it turns out these remains are fresh, the flesh chemically removed. Szacki questions the dead man’s wife, only to be left with a suspicion she’s hiding something. Then another victim surfaces–a violent husband, alive but maimed–giving rise to a theory: someone’s targeting domestic abusers. And as new clues bring the murderer closer to those Szacki holds dear, he begins to understand the terrible rage that drives people to murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIncorruptible / Barbara Nadel.
“In the backstreets of Istanbul, a young woman’s body is found. Dumped in a dustbin and covered in cut flowers, she is the victim of a frenzied and vicious stabbing. Inspector Ikmen discovers that the woman was well known in Istanbul. Newspapers had been calling her the blessed woman; cured of cancer in a Christian miracle and a proclaimed messenger of the Virgin Mary. These controversial claims had made her fierce enemies in the predominantly Islamic community and she had unwittingly stirred up divisions amongst the Christians of the city.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrisis in the Cotswolds / Rebecca Tope.
“Thea and Drew have been married for a year and are settled in the village of Broad Campden, but Thea is chafing at the domestic routines she is expected to devote herself to, missing the novelty and adventure that house-sitting used to bring. When a routine burial exposes the secrets of the deceased, Drew finds himself caught in the middle of a family feud, in which he feels he is on the wrong side, and Thea’s inquisitiveness and penchant for solving crimes draws her in too. With another crisis at Drew’s other business leaving him with a profound dilemma and Thea struggling against the charismatic charms of a new man, can their marriage survive this latest Cotswold drama?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGhosts of the past / Marco Vichi ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli and Oonagh Stransky.
“Florence, 1967. It is winter, and one year has passed since the historic and devastating flood of the Arno, though the memories of that day still linger with the stains on the city walls. The anniversary of the flood brings with it a new case for Inspector Bordelli. A local wealthy industrialist – fiercely loved and respected by everyone he knew – has been found murdered in his grand villa in the Fiesole hills, and the killer has left no trace. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A different kind of evil / Wilson, Andrew
In January 1927 – and still recovering from the harrowing circumstances surrounding her disappearance a month earlier – Agatha Christie sets sail on an ocean liner bound for the Canary Islands. She has been sent there by the British Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the death of one of its agents, whose partly mummified body has been found in a cave. Early one morning, on the passage to Tenerife, Agatha witnesses a woman throw herself from the ship into the sea. At first, nobody connects the murder of the young man on Tenerife with the suicide of a mentally unstable heiress. Yet, soon after she checks into the glamorous Taoro Hotel situated in the lush Orotava Valley, Agatha uncovers a series of dark secrets. The famous writer has to use her novelist’s talent for plotting to outwit an enemy who possesses a very different kind of evil.” (Catalogue)

A few recommendations for lovers of Suicide Squad

The Victories book cover

In this post, which is part of our series of comic recommended readings, we are going to explore some graphic works that have some sort of connection visually, thematically or character based to one of the comic world’s most popular and enduring creations, Suicide Squad, so if you already like Suicide Squad why not try the following:

Syndetics book coverSuicide Squad : the official movie novelization / based on the Warner Bros. Pictures film written by David Ayer ; based on characters from DC comics ; novelization by Marv Wolfman.
“Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous imprisoned super criminals, provide them the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them to defeat an enigmatic, unstoppable enemy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecret Six. Volume 1, Villains united / Gail Simone, writer ; Dale Eaglesham, Val Semeiks, Brad Walker, pencillers ; Wade Von Grawbadger [and 4 others], inkers.
“Collecting the series that led into INFINITE CRISIS! Six of justice’s deadliest enemies band together to start a revolution. Together, they want to take a stand to stop the super-heroic community from tampering with their minds and to prove how deadly they can be! But not everyone agrees to this agenda. Six rogues are recruited by the enigmatic Mockingbird, charged with opposing the Society and given assignments to thwart their rivals and even help their enemies. Who is Mockingbird? Could it be one of the six?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Paybacks. Volume 1 / script by Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal ; art by Geoff Shaw.
“Heroism doesn’t come cheap, so when superheroes borrow money to finance their genetic enhancements, robotic suits or crime-fighting supercomputers, their debts make student loans look like IOUs. Enter the Paybacks, a repo squad composed of bankrupt former heroes like Night Knight and Miss Adventure, here to foreclose on everybody’s secret lairs. But now the Paybacks have discovered a fate far worse than debt: a murderer is on the loose. and it just may be one of their own.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Victories [1] : touched / story and art, Michael Avon Oeming.
“Not long from now, all that will stand between you and evil are THE VICTORIES: heroes sworn to protect us from crime, corruption, and the weird designer drug known as Float. As one member hits the streets looking for blood, he discovers himself touched by a painful past through the powers of a psychic. Will this trauma cause him to self-destruct or to rejoin the good fight? Collects the five-issue miniseries.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJustice League vs. Suicide Squad / Joshua Williamson, Tim Seeley, Rob Williams, Si Spurrier, writers ; Jason Fabok, Tony S. Daniel, Jesus Merino, Fernando Pasarin [and fifteen others], artists.
“This was a day that Amanda Waller–the government liaison in charge of Task Force X–always knew would come: the Justice League discovers the existence of the Suicide Squad! The government-sponsored black-ops team of super-villains with bombs implanted in their brains is obviously a dealbreaker for the World’s Greatest Superheroes. But you can bet the Wall and her gang won’t go down without the fight to end all fights!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Top picks from new Science Fiction arrivals

A Big Ship... book cover

The wild and wonderful world of science fiction writing is well represented in this month’s latest acquisitions. From Dan Abnett’s The Founding, to Mercedes Lackey’s A Scandal in Battersea there’s a lot to be enjoyed in this month’s latest batch of books. Take yourself into this wondrous cosmic universe of words!

Syndetics book coverThe founding / Dan Abnett.
“In the Chaos-infested Sabbat System, the massed ranks of the Astra Militarum – more commonly known as the Imperial Guard – stand shoulder to shoulder as they counter an invasion by heretical forces. Amongst the defenders of the Imperium are the troops of the Tanith First-and-Only, a displaced regiment forced to flee their home planet before it succumbed to the unrelenting assault of Chaos. Nicknamed ‘the Ghosts’, their specialist scouting role sees them thrown into the thickest of the fighting. Led by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, they must evade the treacherous scheming of rival regiments and the lethal firepower of the enemy if they are to have any hope of achieving victory over the forces of Chaos.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe book of hidden things / Francesco Dimitri.
“Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up. A visit to his house increases the friends’ worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can’t go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss’s daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Quanderhorn xperimentations / Rob Grant & Andrew Marshall.
“England, 1952. A time of peace, regeneration and hope. A Golden Age. Unfortunately, it’s been 1952 for the past 65 years.
Meet Professor Quanderhorn: a brilliant, maverick scientific genius with absolutely no moral compass. Assisted by a rag-tag crew – his part-insect “son” (reputedly ‘a major breakthrough in Artificial Stupidity’), a recovering amnesiac, a brilliant scientist with a half-clockwork brain, and a captured Martian hostage – he’ll save the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA scandal in Battersea / Mercedes Lackey.
“In this Victorian historical fantasy novel, a member of the famed Bloomsbury writers’ group attempts to conjure a doppelganger-an Earth Elemental Golem-to do his writing for him while he enjoys the London social scene. When a shadow image of himself knocks on his door some nights after his invocation, he lets it into the house thinking that his ritual has been a success, not realizing that the Golem is actually inhabited by the ghost of a murderous fiend-part Jack the Ripper and part Mr. Hyde.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOutcasts of order / L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
“Beltur, an Order mage, discovers he possesses frightening powers not seen for hundreds of years. With his new abilities, he survives the war in Elparta and saves the lives of all. However, victory comes with a price. His fellow mages now see him as a threat to be destroyed, and the local merchants want to exploit his power.
There’s only one way he can remain free and survive–he’s going to have to run.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSummerland / Hannu Rajaniemi.
“How do you catch a spy who’s already dead?
In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. But Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god.
When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfterwar / Lilith Saintcrow.
“America has been devastated by a second civil war. The people have spent years divided, fighting their fellow patriots. Now, as the regime crumbles and the bloody conflict draws to a close, the work of rebuilding begins. One lonely crew, bonded under fire in the darkest days of battle, must complete one last mission: to secure a war criminal whose secrets could destroy the fragile peace that has just begun to form.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA big ship at the edge of the universe / Alex White.
Firefly meets The Fast and the Furious Furious in this science fiction adventure series that follows a crew of outcasts as they try to find a legendary ship that just might be the key to saving the universe.
A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society. They’re all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it’s been destroyed, and some think it’s only a legend, but one thing’s for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands. And treasure that valuable can never stay hidden for long…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Dogged Detectives and Feline Fatales

Lawyer for the Cat book cover

They say people are either dog people or cat people and the same definitely goes for animal detective stories. You might not be aware of the cat and dog sub-genre of detective novels, but they are usually (although not exclusively) fun, light-hearted and a perfect pick me up read.

These novels come in many different forms. In some the cats or dogs are companions to the sleuths, in others they are the sleuths themselves, and occasionally our furry friends are the source of the mystery. So here for your edification and entertainment are some of the finest feline and Fido crime-solving capers. (And for some reason we couldn’t find a cat and dog detective duo but surely there’s one out there somewhere.)


Syndetics book coverThe purrfect murder / Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown ; illustrations by Michael Gellatly.
Rita Mae Brown has a huge, loyal following with Sneaky Pie Brown being her feline companion. She is best known for her fun, light-hearted detective novels such as The Purrfect Murder which will keep you both laughing and reading. Rita Mae Brown has also written for the screen, particularly horror movies, and published numerous non-fiction works on feminism and the civil rights movement in America – both movements she plays an active part in.

Syndetics book coverCat in a leopard spot : a Midnight Louie mystery / Carole Nelson Douglas.
A big game hunter is found dead and once again the feisty feline sleuth Midnight Louie leaps into action to solve the crime. This is the thirteenth instalment of this hugely popular series (currently twenty eight and still counting). Carole Nelson Douglas also writes several other series including the Irene Adler series and the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator series of novels.

Syndetics book coverLawyer for the cat : a novel / Lee Robinson.
Ace lawyer Sally Baynard is asked to represent Beatrice, the beneficiary of a multi-million dollar estate. It’s an everyday, commonplace case – only Beatrice is a black cat and other people have their eye on the money. As you would expect, Lawyer for the Cat features lots of good natured characters, many of them of a furry variety.

Syndetics book coverPaw and order : a Chet and Bernie mystery / Spencer Quinn.
Spencer Quinn’s seventh title in his New York Times bestselling series. Once again private eye Bernie and his canine companion and series narrator Chet set out to right wrongs and sniff out baddies. This time the detective duo is out to uncover a devilish plot in Washington D.C.

Syndetics book coverNew tricks / David Rosenfelt.
Another light-hearted canine detective series is David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenters series. New Tricks is a good example of his work: it revolves around the murder of a Bernese puppy-owner, and it’s up to irreverent defence attorney Andy Carpenter and his trusty golden retriever Tara to solve the case. Rosenfelt’s book is all very good natured and contains lots of laughs – perfect night cap book material.

Syndetics book coverSuspect / Robert Crais.
The final choice in this small selection of cat and dog detective books is an altogether more serious work: Robert Crais’s Suspect. Suspect deals with bereavement and the journey towards rebuilding one’s life and healing. LAPD cop Scott James is having to deal with the murder of his partner Stephanie whilst his new canine partner Maggie the German shepherd is back from three tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, where she lost her handler. It’s about how man’s best friend can form deep friendships that can help one to get over trauma.

New sci fi and fantasy selections

Space Opera book cover

Newly acquired science fiction titles provide a rich cornucopia of titles and authors from established award winning favourites like Stephen R. Lawhead, Joanne Harris and Catherynne M. Valente, to critically acclaimed works like Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (reissued to tie in with the recent movie). The icing on top of the cake for many will be the welcome rerelease of George R R Martin’s Nightflyers, again to tie in with a major new television series. So much to enjoy, so little time!

The testament of Loki / Harris, Joanne
“In this follow-up to The Gospel of Loki from protean Chocolat author Harris, Ragnarok, the anticipated end of the world, has come and gone. Loki finds himself stuck in the mind of a teenage girl whose friends have been preempted by other Norse gods, with Odin plotting to bring back Norse power. But will Loki cooperate? In the sequel to The Gospel of Loki, Loki’s adventures continue when he finds a way out of the end of the world and plans to restart the power of the Norse gods.” (Catalogue)

Space opera / Valente, Catherynne M.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente’s science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth. A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented–something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.” (Catalogue)

Nightflyers / Martin, George R. R
“Featuring fifteen original full-color illustrations, this is the definitive edition of an electrifying tale that combines the deep-space thrills of Alien, the psychological horror of The Shining, and, of course, the inimitable vision of George R. R. Martin.
When a scientific expedition is launched to study a mysterious alien race, the only ship available is the Nightflyer, a fully autonomous vessel manned by a single human. But Captain Royd Eris remains locked away, interacting with his passengers only as a disembodied voice–or a projected hologram no more substantial than a ghost.” (Catalogue)

The hills have spies / Lackey, Mercedes
“In this new series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, Heralds Mags and Amily must continue to protect the realm of Valdemar while raising their children and preparing them to follow in their footsteps. Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife Amily are happily married with three kids. The oldest, Justyn, has the Gift of animal Mindspeech–he can talk to animals and persuade them to act as he wishes. Justyn’s dream is to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Herald Spy, but has yet to be Chosen by his horse companion.” (Catalogue)

Annihilation / VanderMeer, Jeff
“The Southern Reach Trilogy begins with this Nebula Award-winning novel that “reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world” (Kim Stanley Robinson). Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.” (Catalogue)

By fire above / Bennis, Robyn
By Fire Above is the rip-roaring new adventure in Robyn Bennis’s Signal Airship military fantasy series.  “All’s fair in love and war,” according to airship captain Josette Dupre, until her hometown of Durum becomes occupied by the enemy and her mother a prisoner of war. Then it becomes, “Nothing’s fair except bombing those Vins to high hell.” Before she can rescue her town, however, Josette must maneuver her way through the nest of overstuffed vipers that make up Garnia’s military and royal leaders in order to drum up support. The foppish and mostly tolerated Mistral crew member Lord Bernat steps in to advise her, along with his very attractive older brother. Between noble scheming, under-trained recruits, and supply shortages, Josette and the crew of the Mistral figure out a way to return to Durum–only to discover that when the homefront turns into the frontlines, things are more dangerous than they seem.” (Catalogue)

The queens of Innis Lear / Gratton, Tessa
“Tessa Gratton’s debut epic adult fantasy, The Queens of Innis Lear, brings to life a world that hums with ancient magic, and characters as ruthless as the tides. The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.” (Catalogue)

Wrath of empire / McClellan, Brian
“The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.” (Catalogue)

Artificial condition / Wells, Martha
“It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself Murderbot. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a research transport vessal named ART (you don’t want to know what the A stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…” (Catalogue)

Top picks from our latest graphic novels

Sirens book cover

Graphic novels continue to delight, thrill and amaze with their rich diversity of style and content and this months selection of releases are no exception from tales of jazz greats to primitive tribes existing on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

Mudbite featuring Dave Cooper’s Eddy Table. / Cooper, Dave
Mudbite compiles two all-new Eddy Table stories, ‘Mud River’ and ‘Bug Bite’, in which Eddy Table returns to his roots, acting as Dave’s alter ego in the dreamlike narratives. Eddy first appeared in the early ’90s in Dave Cooper’s award-winning underground comic series, Weasel. The stories are based on baffling dreams and a unique kind of logical nonsense, centering on encounters with voluptuous women and fantasy technology.” (Catalogue)

Total jazz / Blutch
“In these freewheeling short stories, vignettes, and sketches that originally appeared in Jazzman magazine, the famed French cartoonist examines not only the genre and its creators but the nature of the subculture. The grumpy festival-goer, the curmudgeonly collector, the anxious auditioner, and many others are his targets. As improvisional as Coltrane and Mingus, Blutch captures the excitement of live performance and of creating and listening to music.” (Catalogue)

Niourk / Vatine, Olivier
“On a post-apocalyptic Earth, where mankind has regressed to a handful of primitive tribes hunting and foraging for a meager, oppressed existence, a lone black child, shunned by other members of his tribe, sets out on an epic journey to what used to be known as New York, land of the gods! Written by Stefan Wul, author of cult favorite Fantastic Planet, illustrated by acclaimed French comics artist Olivier Vatine, this unusual hero’s journey is a memorable examination of a child’s compassion — and the human race’s cruelty.”(Catalogue)

Kill six billion demons. Book two, Wielder of dreams. / Parkinson-Morgan, Tom
“When her boyfriend is kidnapped by genocidal angels, Allison Ruth rushes to save him. Now this sorority sister/barista/business major is stranded in an alternate dimension and endowed with awesome – but incredibly inconvenient – power. There’s a way out, but it’ll take everything Allison has.” (Catalogue)

Sirens / Pérez, George
“As an intergalactic force enslaves planets across the galaxy, the legendary team known only as the Sirens must reunite to save the galaxy–but is that even possible when the Sirens themselves don’t remember who they are? And the rest of the universe only remembers them as…villains?” (Catalogue)

Secret weapons / Heisserer, Eric
“The government has dispatched Amanda McKee – the technopath codenamed Livewire – to investigate the ruins of a secret facility formerly run by Toyo Harada, the most powerful telepath on Earth and her former mentor. In his quest for world betterment at any cost, Harada sought out and activated many potential psiots like himself. Those who survived, but whose powers he deemed to have no value to his cause, were hidden away at this installation. But Livewire, having studied Harada’s greatest strengths and learned his deepest weaknesses, senses opportunity where he once saw failure.” (Catalogue)

Shadows on the grave / Corben, Richard
“Richard Corben follows up 2014’s Spirits of the Dead with a new collection of original short stories, ranging from gothic tales worthy of Poe, to Twilight Zone-style encounters with the weird, to a full-length fantasy epic featuring a barbarian reminiscent of Corben’s most notorious creation, Den, immortalized in the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal. Corben rose to prominence with short horror and science fiction stories in the early 1970s in Creepy and Eerie, which were later collected in Creepy Presents Richard Corben.” (Catalogue)

Get naked / Seagle, Steven T
“Where would you get naked? In the spirit of essayist David Sedaris and the sardonic travel monologues of Spalding Grey, comic writer Steven T. Seagle… turns his eye to a new form–the graphic essay. Nineteen emerging global cartoonists journey through Seagle’s personal observations of global attitudes about nudeness. Balancing raw comedy, raw emotions, and raw cartooning, the essays honestly chronicle Seagle’s place as an undressed, metaphorical fish out of water on different continents – from not recognizing a famous unclothed celebrity in Hollywood, to finding himself nude on the roof of a Berlin high-rise, to being eaten by literal fish in Tokyo.” (Catalogue)

Incognegro : a graphic mystery / Johnson, Mat
“This tenth anniversary edition of the acclaimed and fearless graphic novel features enhanced toned art, an afterword by Mat Johnson, character sketches, and other additional material. In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could ‘pass’ among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going ‘incognegro’. (Catalogue)

The Battle of Churubusco : American rebels in the Mexican-American War / Ferraris, Andrea
“A soldier under fire faces a crisis of conscience in this remarkable work of historical graphic fiction. In 1847, Mexican suburb Churubusco was the stronghold of the San Patricios, a motley battalion of soldiers–even some runaway American slaves–who deserted the United States army for a just, if suicidal, cause.” (Catalogue)

Catch up on the latest fiction from New Zealand writers

New Zealand writers are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ selection of new material. There are several historical novels that bring into focus New Zealand’s political, cultural and social development over the last century. As well as a fabulous new Ngaio Marsh murder mystery completed by award winning author Stella Duffy and a new work from award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw called Mazarine.

Syndetics book coverMoney in the morgue / Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy.
“Roderick Alleyn is back in this unique crime novel begun by Ngaio Marsh during the Second World War and now completed by Stella Duffy. It’s business as usual for Mr Glossop as he does his regular round delivering wages to government buildings scattered across New Zealand’s lonely Canterbury plains. But when his car breaks down he is stranded for the night at the isolated Mount Seager Hospital, with the telephone lines down, a storm on its way and the nearby river about to burst its banks. Trapped with him at Mount Seager are a group of quarantined soldiers with a serious case of cabin fever, three young employees embroiled in a tense love triangle, a dying elderly man, an elusive patient whose origins remain a mystery … and a potential killer. When the payroll disappears from a locked safe and the hospital’s death toll starts to rise faster than normal, can the appearance of an English detective working in counterespionage be just a lucky coincidence – or is something more sinister afoot?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix murders? : the strange case of the Welly alley strangler / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“When Faith and her husband accidentally get involved in the weird life of Ponytail O’Gorman – a beguiling old fraudster – they have no idea how much he will disrupt their peaceful life in suburban Kilbirnie. But he convinces them to help him in his strange quest to find both his friend from prison, Simple Simon, and his own missing cell phone which is being sought by a bunch of desperate crooks as well as by the head of Wellington CIB. Determined to help the strangely charming little con-man – and so discover the truth about the notorious Welly Alley Strangler – they get carried along to a secretive location in beautiful Martinborough. In the process Faith confronts a collection of odd characters, who unknown to her were part of her husband’s life as a prison guard.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A thin slice of heaven / Paul Wah.
“A historical novel recounting the adventures of the author’s great-grandfather, Ng Leung Kee, who migrated to New Zealand in 1880 and set up a successful Chinese merchant business in Wellington. Ng Leung Kee returned to Tiansum, China in 1922, to take his grandson Leslie to receive a Chinese education. They faced significant challenges, including the kidnapping of Leslie by bandits, during a period of tumultuous political, economic and social conditions in China.”
(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMazarine / Charlotte Grimshaw.
“From award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw, this is a beautifully evocative, sensual portrayal of a woman’s search for freedom and love. When her daughter vanishes during a heatwave in Europe, writer Frances Sinclair embarks on a hunt that takes her across continents and into her own past. What clues can Frances find in her own history, and who is the mysterious Mazarine? Following the narrative thread left by her daughter, she travels through cities touched by terrorism and surveillance, where the concept of relatedness is subtly changed, and a startling new fiction seems to be constructing itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe man who would not see / Rajorshi Chakraborti.
“When family suddenly becomes your greatest challenge, mystery, rediscovery . As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother’s life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay’s happy home will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient – and false – grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother’s life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Crystal ReignCrystal reign / Kelly Lyndon.
“Former Navy Lieutenant Commander and MMA instructor David Johnson has it all: an amazing wife, three beautiful kids and a great job. He’s the man who can handle anything, and anyone – until his wife Chrissie is introduced to methamphetamine at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. Slowly but surely, everything David has worked for and believed in is dramatically eroded as Chrissie’s addiction takes hold. Then Chrissie disappears without a trace. In his effort to find her, David gets drawn into the dark world of meth. As the months pass, he becomes more and more afraid that she has been killed, and that the police will suspect him for her murder. The story of one man’s fight to save his family from the drug that is engulfing and destroying New Zealand society.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Eye of the SongbirdEye of the songbird / Michael Munro.
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world¿s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land Antarctica. She ¿s the target, Songbird, the woman he’s been told to bring down and here she is swinging helpless in a crevasse in Antarctica. What should Kirk Barnby, New Zealand secret service agent, do? Cut the rope? In this taut and exciting clash between environmental activism and nation-state determination, which ranges from Antarctica, Hong Kong, London, Istanbul and Wellington, two very determined people have to make a choice – political or personal?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA tale of love / Linda Lê ; translated from the French by Sian Robyns.
“Ylane and Ivan meet for the first time in the library of a psychiatric hospital, falling instantly and deeply in love. In the shelter of the clinic they find happiness, but release into the outside world is frightening and love becomes a struggle as reality intrudes. And yet this reality strangely has more in common with a fairy tale with its monsters and lost children and one true love. And like a fairy tale, there is always the sense of the narrator watching and writing it all down. This is a novel as much about the power of reading and writing to transform as it is about the transformation of love. Both give the young lovers the opportunity to recover and recreate themselves, but Ylane and Ivan discover that just as there are always two sides to a page, so there is no single answer to the questions that besiege them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoundary / by Paul W. Feenstra.
“July 1839, without the knowledge of the English Government, the ship Tory, stealthily departed Plymouth, determined to reach New Zealand with the utmost speed. The objective, to purchase millions of acres of lands at the lowest possible price and then build the perfect society. The New Zealand Company called the first settlement Britannia, a civilization without the shortcomings and failings of a troubled English culture. On board the Tory, a young Scottish couple indentured to the New Zealand Company are excited at the prospect of beginning a new life, Britannia is the Utopia they’ve been promised. This is the story of adversity, the struggle to survive in the hardships of a new colony, and their fight to preserve morality and integrity in the face of greed, deception and injustice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning / edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray, Aaron Compton.
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift aimless, and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, at the same time sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secret keepers. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths, and beautiful possibilities…Te Korero Ahi Ka, a term which means to speak of the home fires burning, is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from both established and emerging members of the SpecFicNZ organisation of writers, poets, artists, and creatives. It is a statement about how New Zealand creators of speculative fiction and art shine their light on our literary landscape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A fine romance

Single, non-smoking book seeks a reader to start a new chapter in their life. Get past the cover and you will find a gem of a read. Seeks a rugged, thoughtful and compassionate reader or a flashy page turner. Must have commas, full stops and their own paragraphs.
Apply to the fiction section Wellington Central Library.

In this month’s fiction feature we are exploring another thread in our rich and diverse fiction collection by highlighting romantic fiction. Romance has inspired some of the world’s most beloved classics, from to Persuasion by Jane Austen and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte to Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

The genre now encompasses a dizzying array of sub-categories to suit every taste, including fantasy romance, gothic romance, historical romance, inspirational romance, paranormal romance, military romance, regency romance, western romance, vampire and werewolf romance, and let’s not forget time travel romance. So why not explore the wonderful world of romance writing! Below is just a very small selection of our picks.


Some of the many classic Romance titles include.

Persuasion / Austen, Jane
“Jane Austen’s final novel is her most mature and wickedly satirical. It follows the story of Anne Elliott, who as a teenager, was engaged to a seemingly ideal man, Frederick Wentworth. But after being persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that he is too poor to be a suitable match, Anne ends their engagement. When they are reacquainted eight years later, their circumstances are transformed: Frederick is returning triumphantly from the Napoleonic War, while Anne’s fortunes are floundering. Will their past regrets prevent them from finding future happiness?” (Catalogue)

Gone with the wind / Mitchell, Margaret
“One of the most famous love stories of all time Set against the historical backdrop of the American Civil War, this historical epic is a tale of a nation mortally divided. It is the love story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlet O’Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.” (Catalogue)

Rebecca / Du Maurier, Daphne
* One of the most famous novels ofthe 20th century* A dark tale of the feminine unconscious Du Maurier’s famous tale of suspense, mystery and love concerns Maxim de Winter’s shy new bride and the house she is to inhabit, but that still reverberates to the haunting presence of his previous wife’s influence.” (Catalogue)

Sci Fi/Paranormal Romance has amongst its many practitioners New Zealand author Nalini Singh.

Archangel’s blade / Singh, Nalini
“Trying to discover the identity of a murder victim brings together the vampire Dmitri and a hunter for the Guild, Honor. And as the gruesome murders continue, a lethal sensuality explodes between them.” (Catalogue)

Historical Romance is another very popular genre. We particularly like Scot
Emma Blair.

Wild strawberries / Blair, Emma
“Maizie and her husband run a hotel in Cornwall. When World War II starts, Sam joins up. Struggling to keep the hotel going, Maizie takes on two evacuees, glad of the company. Her happiness grows with the arrival of a French soldier wounded at Dunkirk but she soon becomes torn between duty and love.” (Catalogue)

Contemporary romance is well represented by the ever popular Jojo Moyes.

Paris for one and other stories / Moyes, Jojo
“Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She’s never even been on a romantic weekend away – to anywhere – before. Travelling abroad isn’t really her thing. But when Nell’s boyfriend fails to show up, she has the chance to prove to everyone – including herself – that she can be independent and intrepid. Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed . . . In the ten other stories, Jojo Moyes introduces us to a cast of strong, relatable women in the midst of their everyday lives. In Honeymoon in Paris, featuring characters from her bestselling novel, The Girl You Left Behind, Liv and Sophie – though decades apart – both find that marriage is only the beginning of their love stories. In Crocodile Shoes, a businesswoman’s blossoming confidence emerges from a fateful changing-room mix-up. And in both Love in the Afternoonand A Bird in the Hand, two couples dance around the trickiness of long-time marriage. In this irresistible collection, readers are whisked from elegant perfume shops to taxis to five-star hotel rooms and beyond. Jojo Moyes always makes the ordinary moments in life extraordinary. Funny, charming, and unmissable, Paris for One and Other Storiesis Moyes at her best.” (Catalogue)

And Suspense Romance fiction features one of the world’s bestselling authors, Nora Roberts. Enjoy!

The liar / Roberts, Nora
“In a sexy, suspenseful read, Nora Roberts delivers a slow-burning fuse of a plot that ultimately explodes in a nail-biting conclusion. Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions. The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.” (Catalogue)

Scandinavian noir tales feature in our new mystery fiction!

The Darkness

This month’s featured mysteries include a couple of gripping Scandinavian noir tales, Donna Leon’s twenty-seventh Commissario Guido Brunetti Venetian whodunit plus Anne Perry, Quintin Jardine, Alanna Knight, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, Mario Giordano and Peter James’ latest work. In short, if you like mystery novels it’s been a bumper month and there’s something new to suit every taste!

Syndetics book coverThe darkness / Ragnar Jónasson ; translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.
“After being unceremoniously forced into early retirement at the age of 64, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsd ttir of the Reykjavik Police is refusing to go quietly. Hulda is told to pick a cold case to investigate for two more weeks and she knows just the one. A young woman found dead on the seaweed-covered rocks of the Vatnsleysustrond. A woman who had come to Iceland in search of refuge and found only a watery grave. Her death was ruled a suicide after a slapdash investigation. But when Hulda starts to ask questions she soon realises that there was something far darker to this case. That this was not the only young woman to disappear from the hostel where the asylum seekers waited for their judgement and that no one is telling the whole story. And that if she uncovers something she shouldn’t her own life might be in danger.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe temptation of forgiveness / Donna Leon.
“In the twenty-seventh novel in Donna Leon’s bestselling mystery series, a suspicious accident leads Commissario Guido Brunetti to uncover a longstanding scam with disturbing unintended consequences. Surprised, if not dismayed, to discover from his superior, Vice-Questore Patta, that leaks are emanating from the Questura, Commissario Guido Brunetti is surprised more consequentially by the appearance of a friend of his wife’s, fearful that her son is using drugs and hopeful Brunetti can somehow intervene. When Tullio Gasparini, the woman’s husband, is found unconscious and with a serious brain injury at the foot of a bridge in Venice after midnight, Brunetti is drawn to pursue a possible connection to the boy’s behavior.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe devil’s dice / Roz Watkins.
“A lawyer is found dead in a Peak District cave, his face ribboned with scratches. A sinister message amidst rumours of a local curse, DI Meg Dalton is convinced this is cold-blooded murder. There’s just one catch – chiselled into the cave wall above the body is an image of the grim reaper and the dead man’s initials, and it’s been there for over a century. A deadly game as Meg battles to solve the increasingly disturbing case, it’s clear someone knows her secrets. The murderer is playing games with Meg – and the dice are loaded…A white-knuckle crime debut introducing DI Meg Dalton, perfect for fans of Broadchurch and Happy Valley.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Staveley suspect / Rebecca Tope.
“Simmy Brown has a lot on her mind. Not just keeping her florist business afloat, her father’s failing health, the challenge of developing a long-term relationship with Christopher, but also the approach of Mother’s Day, a busy and painful day for her. But in taking an order for a retirement party in Staveley, she is pulled into her most challenging investigation. When a daughter starts accusing her own mother of murder, Simmy, Ben and Bonnie find themselves taking different sides of the investigation. With her relationships under strain, Simmy is tried on all fronts. However, she has to learn to leave her own concerns behind to discover just who the killer is.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark tide rising / Anne Perry.
Dark Tide Rising is the 24th compelling mystery in the William Monk series, from the master of Victorian crime Anne Perry. When Kate Exeter is kidnapped on the shore of the Thames, Commander William Monk is enlisted by her desperate husband to save her. Kate’s captors are demanding a ransom for her safe return and Monk and his most trusted men must arrange a secret handover in the dark slums of Jacob’s Island. But on the night someone betrays them and a brutal skirmish breaks out, leaving death and destruction in its wake… Monk senses tensions mount and no one knows who to trust. Then a whistle blower claims that the ransom money was embezzled funds that incriminate Kate’s husband, and the case takes on a whole new meaning.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Brush with death / Quintin Jardine.
“When millionaire Leo Speight is found poisoned at his Ayrshire mansion, Police Scotland has a tough case on its hands. Speight was a champion boxer with national hero status, and a long list of lovers and friends stand to benefit from his estate. Did one of them decide to speed things up? Or was jealousy or rivalry the motive? The Security Service wants to stay close to the investigation and they have just the man to send in: ex-Chief Constable Bob Skinner. Skinner might have retired from the police, but solving crimes is in his blood. Combining forces with DI Lottie Mann and DS Dan Provan of Serious Crimes, he’s determined to see Speight’s murderer put away for a long time. But there’s a twist even Bob Skinner couldn’t see coming…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe 17th suspect / James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.
“A series of shootings exposes San Francisco to a methodical yet unpredictable killer, and a reluctant woman decides to put her trust in Sergeant Lindsay Boxer. The confidential informant’s tip leads Lindsay to disturbing conclusions, including that something has gone horribly wrong inside the police department itself. With lives at stake, the detective can’t help but follow the case into ever more terrifying terrain. A decorated officer, loving wife, devoted mother, and loyal friend, Lindsay’s unwavering integrity has never failed her. But now she is confronting a killer who is determined to undermine it all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMurder lies waiting : a Rose McQuinn mystery / Alanna Knight.
“For Rose McQuinn the invitation to holiday at a luxury hotel on the isle of Bute is an unexpected delight until she discovers the real reason is to investigate a twenty year old non-proven murder case. With close links to a strange local family of ancient origin whose modern castle holds many dark secrets, Rose’s involvement in this challenge unleashes a web of intrigue and sinister happenings as she realizes too late when a drowned man is a murder victim and someone decides she is close enough to the truth not to leave the island alive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe reckoning / Yrsa Sigurdardóttir ; translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.
In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait. This is the chilling message found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried. But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat… Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him busy and away from real police work. He turns to Freyja to help with the psychology of the child who hid the note. Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case… For the discovery of the letter coincides with a string of macabre events: body parts found in a garden, followed by the murder of the man who owned the house. His initials are BT… and now time is running out to identify the writer, the victims and the killer, before further deaths come.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDead if you don’t / Peter James.
“Shortly after Kipp Brown and his teenage son, Mungo, arrive at the stadium for their team’s biggest-ever football game, Mungo disappears. A short while later Kipp receives a text with a ransom demand and a warning not to go to the police if he and his wife want to see their son alive again. But as a massive, covert manhunt for the boy and his kidnappers begins, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace starts to realize that not all is what it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAuntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord (Auntie Poldi, 2) [paperback]
A Man Called Ove meets Inspector Montalbano , Auntie Poldi leaves no stone unturned in her quest for answers. Wine and murder – nothing is more likely to rouse Auntie Poldi’s love of the chase. Still relishing the notoriety from her spectacular resolution of the Candela case, Poldi is alive to the faintest whiff of criminality. What to others might seem a series of misfortunes – the water supply cut off, a poisoned dog – is clearly, to Poldi, an escalation: the Mafia have had her in their sights ever since she solved Valentino’s murder. Poldi has tasted blood. No one is above suspicion. And trouble will surely follow…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)