Dublin Noir: New Mystery Fiction

What exactly makes a murderer? What leads to the decision to kill? These are the questions Irish author Olivia Kiernan considered when writing the second book in her Frankie Sheehan series, The Killer in Me. The Financial Times has called The Killer in Me fresh, tense and gruesome, while the Wall Street Journal described it as a “captivating new thriller.” Now you, too, can discover why it just might be one of the best police procedural stories this year.

Also new to Wellington City Libraries this month: the latest works from Christi Daugherty, S.C. Perkins and Scottish author (and founder of the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival) Alex Gray. Enjoy!

Only the dead can tell / Gray, Alex
“When Dorothy Guildford is found stabbed to death in her home, all signs point to her husband, Peter. The forensic psychologist is convinced there’s more to the case than meets the eye but Police Scotland are certain they have their man. While DC Kirsty Wilson searches for evidence that will put Peter away for good, she is shocked to discover a link to a vast human-trafficking operation . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

The killer in me / Kiernan, Olivia
“Murder convict Sean Hennessy is released from prison to return to a seaside community in Dublin. He has always professed his innocence. But within months of his release, two bodies appear in the peaceful suburb of Clontarf. With a TV documentary pushing the public’s sympathies in Hennessy’s direction, the original evidence against him is called into question and Detective Frankie Sheehan finds herself doubting her original analysis of the case.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

Murder once removed / Perkins, S. C.
“According to her friends, Lucy Lancaster, Austin, Texas genealogist, has never been drunk. Tipsy, sure, but drunk? No way. So when she arrives back at her office from a three-martini lunch a few sheets to the wind, it’s a notable occasion. Even more momentous is what her client, Austin billionaire Gus Halloran, has announced on live television with a blotto Lucy standing at his side: Texas senator Caleb Applewhite might be responsible for the murder of Seth Halloran.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

A dangerous collaboration / Raybourn, Deanna
“Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker’s brother calls in a favour. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly’s house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée–much to Stoker’s chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

A beautiful corpse / Daugherty, Christi
“With its antebellum houses and ancient oak trees draped in a veil of Spanish moss, Savannah’s graceful downtown is famous around the world. When a woman is killed in the heart of that affluent district, the shock is felt throughout the city. But for crime reporter Harper McClain, this story is personal. The corpse has a familiar face . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

Wellington City Libraries: a Diversity of Voices

Author Brannavan Gnanalingam recently wrote an article in Overland on the tragic events in Christchurch, as well as his own experience of living in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The article is a powerful and confronting read, and included in it are his ideas for what it would take to truly change our approach to diversity and difference. Gnanalingam writes about the importance of prioritising diverse voices; about self-reflection and admitting mistakes; the need to listen, and listen some more.

Here at Wellington City Libraries we’d like to do what we can to embrace these ideas. We want to promote a range of stories that reflect the diversity of our city’s communities. We want to listen to those communities, and provide them with an opportunity to be heard.

And that’s where you come in. Let us know what you like to read, which authors you want to hear from, or anything else in the world of fiction. You could email us, or contact us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We hope to travel out to you, too, learning and listening to your stories.

To start things off, we’ve chosen some titles that begin to reflect the range of stories in Wellington and the wider world. Arohanui, Pōneke.

Overdrive cover The Moor’s Account, by Laila Lalami
“In 1527 the Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez arrived on the coast of Florida with hundreds of settlers, and claimed the region for Spain. Within a year, only four survivors remained: three noblemen and a Moroccan slave called “Estebanico”. The official record contains only the three freemen’s accounts. The fourth, to which the title of Laila Lalami’s masterful novel alludes, is Estebanico’s own.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover As the Earth Turns Silver, by Alison Wong
“It’s 1905 and brothers Yung and Shun eke out a living as green grocers near Wellington’s bustling Chinatown. Nearby, Katherine McKechnie struggles to raise her rebellious son and daughter following the death of her husband. Chancing upon the grocery store one day, Katherine is touched by Yung’s unexpected generosity. In time, a clandestine relationship develops between the immigrant and the widow, a relationship Katherine’s son Robbie cannot abide…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Lights of Pointe-Noire, by Alain Mabanckou
“Alain Mabanckou left Congo in 1989, not to return until a quarter of a century later. When at last he comes home to Pointe-Noire, he finds a country that in some ways has changed beyond recognition. As he delves into his childhood and the strange mix of belonging and absence that informs his return, he slowly builds a stirring exploration of the way home never leaves us, however long ago we left.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Unquiet Dead, by Ausma Zehanat Khan
“Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton’s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson
“When a young Arab-Indian hacker–who protects watched groups from surveillance–discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, he finds himself in a life and death struggle against forces seen and unseen. A cool and sophisticated page-turner that will enchant readers who love the works of Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Boy Overboard, by Peter Wells
“Jamie is eleven, on the threshold of discovery. But he can’t find the map that will explain where he fits in or who he is. His parents are away and he is staying with family friends. The sea is rising towards high tide, and he is a boy overboard.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Case of Two Cities, by Qiu Xiaolong
“Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is summoned by an official of the party to take the lead in a corruption investigation–one where the principle figure has long since fled to the United States. But he left behind the organization and his partners-in-crime, and Inspector Chen is charged to uncover those responsible and act as necessary to end the corruption ring.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Potiki, by Patricia Grace
“In a small coastal community threatened by developers who would ravage their lands, it is a time of fear and confusion–and growing anger. The prophet child Tokowaru-i-te-Marama shares his people’s struggles against bulldozers and fast money talk. When dramatic events menace the marae, his grief and rage threaten to burst beyond the confines of his twisted body.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Happy Marriage, by Tahar Ben Jelloun
“In The Happy Marriage, the internationally acclaimed Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun tells the story of one couple—first from the husband’s point of view, then from the wife’s—just as legal reforms are about to change women’s rights forever. In their absorbing struggle, both sides of this modern marriage find out they may not be so enlightened after all.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

The 2019 Nebula long list has been announced

The long list for the 2018 Nebula best novel award has just been announced. The Nebula’s are one of the most prestigious awards in the Science Fiction and Fantasy community and are awarded annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. They aim to recognise the best works of science fiction or fantasy published in America the previous year. They were first awarded in 1966 and now feature six categories the most recent category addition was in 2018 when a Best Game writing category was added. The latest list of nominees is incredibly varied and shows just how strong and vibrant the Science Fiction genre is.

The full fiction finalists list:

The poppy war / Kuang, R. F.
“A powerful epic fantasy novel with roots in the 20th-century history of China. Opium runs through the heart of the Nikara Empire, a constant reminder of the war with the Federation of Mugen that brought it to the empire’s shores. A war that only ended thanks to three heroes – the Vipress, the Dragon Emperor and the Gatekeeper – known as the Trifecta. They were legendary figures, each bestowed with god-like powers, who united the warlords of the Empire against the Federation. Decades have passed. The Trifecta is shattered; the Dragon Emperor is dead, the Gatekeeper is missing, and the Vipress alone sits on the throne at Sinegard. Peace reigns, yet the poppy remains.” (Catalogue)

The calculating stars / Kowal, Mary Robinette
“On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process. Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Blackfish City / Miller, Sam J
“After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, it has started to crumble under the weight of its own decay – crime and corruption have set in, a terrible new disease is coursing untreated through the population, and the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside deepest poverty are spawning unrest. Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor – a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will lead to unprecedented acts of resistance.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSpinning silver / Naomi Novik
Spinning Silver is a new take on the classic fairytale Rumpelstiltskin. Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father is not a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has left his family on the edge of poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what is owed, and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. But when an ill-advised boast brings her to the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood, nothing will be the same again.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Already highly regarded is the stunning Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. It is an urban fantasy adventure novel written from a Native American viewpoint set in a future climate changed ravaged Earth,  its a powerful, unique and gripping read.

Currently available on our eBook Overdrive service:

Overdrive coverWitchmark, C. L. Polk (ebook)
“In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Kerry’s Fiction Picks

Hi everyone, just a recap for those who don’t know who or what my picks are.  I’m the fiction selector for Wellington City Libraries. I spend a lot of time reading about and choosing lovely new fiction for you to enjoy. I try to pick my favourites every week to share with you. These books aren’t ’shelf ready’, but they are due to be published in the next six months or so. And they are on the catalogue, available to reserve.

Syndetics book coverWolf in white van
Fans of the Mountain Goats may be excited to hear that John Darnielle has written a book.  He’s a great storyteller so this is bound to be good.  It has a complex plot that fits somewhere between science fiction and regular fiction. It centres around Sean and a mail-based strategy game where players search for a sanctuary in an apocalyptic landscape.  Amazon says “Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy”.

Syndetics book coverGetting colder
This is the second novel for Amanda Coe who had some success with her debut What they do in the dark It’s about two children, now adults, who were abandoned by their mother and are now looking for answers.  Sara left her family to start a relationship with Patrick, a celebrated playwright, in the 1980s.  When Sara dies 35 years later her children Louise and Nigel seek Patrick out to find out who really was the villain and victims in this situation.

Syndetics book coverIf I knew you were going to be this beautiful, I never would have let you go
For starters, what about that title?  It certainly had me intrigued and it’s possibly the longest I’ve seen.  It’s the debut novel for Judy Chicurel.  The story follows Katie, a young woman from Elephant Beach, a working class summer town on the verge of gentrification.  Katie’s on the verge of adulthood and she spends her time hanging out with friends, drinking, and pursuing her crush.  A pretty common topic, but as Amazon says the author “creates a haunting, vivid world, where conflicts between mothers and daughters, men and women, soldiers and civilians and haves and have-nots reverberate to our own time. She captures not only a time and place, but the universal experience of being poised between the past and the future.”

Syndetics book coverStory hour
This story’s about the friendship that forms between two women despite their differences and the discovery of secrets and a affair that jeopardise their lives.  Maggie is a psychotherapist who begins treating Lakshmi after her suicide attempt, and who is isolated, controlled and unloved by her husband.  A bond forms between the two women and they find connections in their lives – Maggie is married to an Indian man and Lakshmi is from an Indian village.  The complex characters are what makes this novel, “critically acclaimed Indian American writer Umrigar’s most recent novel explores cross-cultural friendships, troubled marriages, love, loss, and forgiveness with her characteristic wisdom, humor, and warmth” (Library Journal).