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)

Historical fiction features in this month’s fiction picks from other genres

The ‘other genres’ category this month features historical fiction. This latest selection includes a new novel by the popular, prolific Bernard Cornwell. Highly recommend is the much praised debut novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar, titled The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

Syndetics book coverCarnegie’s Maid : a novel / Marie Benedict.
“Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets, but the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home. If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does has is an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future and her family’s.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girls in the picture / Melanie Benjamin.
“It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the new industry of the silent moving pictures is enthralling theatergoers everywhere. In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford. The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution. But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender and their astronomical success could come at a price.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarriors of the storm / Bernard Cornwell.
“King Alfred’s son Edward and formidable daughter, Ãthelflaed, rule Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. But all around the restless Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches, are mounting raids. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the kingdom’s greatest warrior, controls northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces are rising up against him. Northmen allied to the Irish, led by the fierce warrior Ragnall Ivarson, are soon joined by the Northumbrians, and their strength could prove overwhelming. Despite the gathering threat, both Edward and Ãthelflaed are reluctant to move out of the safety of their fortifications. But with Uhtred’s own daughter married to Ivarson’s brother, who can be trusted?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreyfriars House / Emma Fraser.
“Once a home full of love, all that remains in Greyfriars House are secrets and lies. On a remote Scottish island sits Greyfriars House, a house haunted by unspoken words and family mysteries. But once it was a happy and comforting place and in the summer of 1939, family and friends gather to forget their fears about the impending war.”

Syndetics book coverThe mermaid and Mrs Hancock : a history in three volumes / written by Imogen Hermes Gowar.
“This voyage is special. It will change everything. One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr. Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great alone / Kristin Hannah.
“Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture, soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sealwoman’s gift / Sally Magnusson.
“Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted some 400 of its people, including 250 from a tiny island off the mainland. Among the captives sold into slavery in Algiers were the island pastor, his wife and their three children. This story is told through the voice of the pastor’s wife Asta” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unlikely agent / Jane Menczer.
“London, 1905. Margaret Trant lives with her ailing, irascible mother in a dreary boarding house in St John’s Wood. The pair have fallen on hard times, with only Margaret’s meagre salary from a ramshackle import-export company keeping them afloat. When a stranger on the tram hands her a newspaper open at the recruitment page, Margaret spots an advertisement that promises to ‘open new horizons beyond your wildest dreams!’ After a gruelling interview, she finds herself in a new position as a secretary in a dingy backstreet shop. But all is not as it seems; she is in fact working for a highly secret branch of the intelligence service, Bureau 8, whose mission is to track down and neutralise a ruthless band of anarchists known as The Scorpions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPale horse riding / Chris Petit.
“By 1943 Auschwitz is the biggest black market in Europe. The garrison has grown epically corrupt on the back of the transportations and goods confiscated, and this is considered even more of a secret than the one surrounding the mass extermination. Everything is done to resist penetration until August Schlegel and SS officer Morgen, after solving the case of the butchers of Berlin, are sent in disguised as post office officials to investigate an instance of stolen gold being sent through the mail. Their chances of getting out of Auschwitz alive are almost nil, unless Schlegel and Morgen accept that the nature of the beast they are fighting means they too must become as corrupt as the corruption they are desperate to expose. Even if they survive, will it be at the cost of losing their souls?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shape of water / Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus.
“It is 1962, and Elisa Esposito, mute her whole life, orphaned as a child, is struggling with her humdrum existence as a janitor working the graveyard shift at Baltimore’s Occam Aerospace Research Center. Were it not for Zelda, a protective coworker, and Giles, her loving neighbor, she doesn’t know how she’d make it through the day. Then, one fateful night, she sees something she was never meant to see, the Center’s most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man, captured in the Amazon, to be studied for Cold War advancements. The creature is terrifying but also magnificent, capable of language and of understanding emotions and Elisa can’t keep away. Using sign language, the two learn to communicate. Soon, affection turns into love, and the creature becomes Elisa’s sole reason to live. But outside forces are pressing in. Richard Strickland, the obsessed soldier who tracked the asset through the Amazon, wants nothing more than to dissect it before the Russians get a chance to steal it. Elisa has no choice but to risk everything to save her beloved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Thrillers feature in this month’s novels from other genres

Featuring this month in our ‘other genre’ category we have selected fiction from the thriller genre. These are guaranteed reading for ardent fans of tension and suspense, and at times not for the faint hearted. Highly recommend is The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn.

Syndetics book coverEighteen below / Stefan Ahnhem ; translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles.
“On a hot summer’s day the police chase a speeding car through the streets of Helsingborg. When they reach the quay, the driver keeps going, straight into the cold, dark water. The body recovered from the wreck is Peter Brise, a wealthy tech entrepreneur. Fabian Risk and his team are confident this is a suicide. Young, rich, successful, Brise just didn’t know how to ask for help. But then the autopsy reveals something unexpected. Brise was already dead when his car crashed. He’d been brutally murdered two months ago. His body was frozen in perfect condition, at eighteen degrees below zero.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRobicheaux : a novel / James Lee Burke.
“Dave Robicheaux is a haunted man. From the acts he committed in Vietnam, to his battles with alcoholism, to the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts pepper his reality. Robicheaux’s only beacon remains serving as a detective in New Iberia, Louisiana With the sudden death of T.J. Dartez, the New Iberian local responsible for Molly’s death, Robicheaux’s colleague, Spade Labiche, thinks Robicheaux had something to do with it. Robicheaux’s determined to clear his name. He’s not alone; his daughter, Alafair, along with his old friend, Clete Purcel is right by Robicheaux’s side as he searches for the killer, where a shocking discovery awaits.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI know my name / C.J. Cooke.
“A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there. Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloise Shelley is officially missing. Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie, does a husband ever truly know his wife or a wife her husband?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe woman in the window / A.J. Finn.
“Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son, the perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArarat / Christopher Golden.
“When an earthquake reveals a secret cave hidden inside Mount Ararat in Turkey, a daring, newly-engaged couple are determined to be the first ones inside and what they discover will change everything. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. Inside the coffin they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver, not the holy man they expected, but a hideous creature with horns. Shock and fear turn to horror when a massive blizzard arrives; they are all trapped thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain. All they can do is pray for safety. But something wicked is listening to their prayers and it wants to answer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIf I die before I wake / Emily Koch.
“Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen. But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDistrict VIII / Adam LeBor.
“Life’s tough for a Gypsy cop in Budapest. The cops don’t trust you because you’re a Gypsy. Your fellow Gypsies, even your own family, shun you because you’re a cop. The dead, however, don’t care. So when Balthazar Kovacs, a detective in the city’s murder squad, gets a mysterious message on his phone from a blocked number he grabs his police ID and goes to work. Danube Blues reveals an underworld that Budapest visitors never get to see: the gritty back-alleys of District VIII; the endemic corruption that reaches deep into the government as officials and their business allies plunder state coffers at will; a rule of law bent to serve the interests of the rich, well-connected and powerful; the rising power of international organized crime gangs who use the Hungarian capital as a springboard for their European operations; and the ghosts of Communism and Nazism that still haunt Hungary.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverThe house / Simon Lelic.
“Lndoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake, because someone has just been murdered, right outside their back door. And now the police are watching them.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverThe boy made of snow / Chloë Mayer.
“In a sleepy English village in 1944, Annabel and her son Daniel live in the shadow of war. With her husband away, an increasingly isolated Annabel begins to lose her grip on reality. When mother and son befriend Hans, a German PoW consigned to a nearby farm, their lives are suddenly filled with thrilling secrets. To Annabel, Hans is an awakening from the darkness that has engulfed her since Daniel’s birth. To her son, a solitary boy caught up in the magical world of fairy tales, he is perhaps a prince in disguise. But Hans has plans of his own and will soon set them into motion with devastating consequences.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoison / Galt Niederhoffer.
“Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids between them, a cat and a yard, a home they built and feathered, they seem to have the Modern Family dream. Their family, including Cass’s two children from previous relationships, has recently moved to Portland, a new start for their new lives. Cass and Ryan have stable, successful careers, and they are happy. But trouble begins almost imperceptibly, first with small omissions and white lies that happen daily in any marital bedroom. They seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a series of denials and feints that mushroom and then cyclone in menace. With life-or-death stakes and irreversible consequences, Poison is a chilling and irresistible reminder that the closest bond designed to protect and provide for each other and for children can change in a minute.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Browse our top picks from this month’s fiction arrivals in our latest newsletter

It’s the beginning of a new year and we have selected some fabulous new fiction from our recently received material for your enjoyment. In the ‘Other Genres’ category this month we are highlighting thrillers, which are guaranteed tensely suspenseful reading.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

This month we received new novels from so many brilliant writers it was difficult to select only ten for our Recent Picks selection. We do hope you will explore the complete list and that the three chosen for this newsletter will definitely be a temptation to do so.

Syndetics book cover The hearts of men / Nickolas Butler.
“Camp Chippewa, 1962. Thirteen-year-old Nelson, loner and over-achiever, is nicknamed the Bugler as he proudly sounds the reveille each morning. This is the summer that everything changes, marking the beginning of Nelson’s uncertain friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan, and the discovery of his father’s betrayal, which tears his family apart. As time moves on, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and transforms his father’s business. When something unthinkable happens during a visit from Jonathan’s grandson and daughter-in-law, the aftermath tests the depths and the limits of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Future home of the living god : a novel / Louise Erdrich.
“Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. For twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant. As society begins to disintegrate, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation. There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women, of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The threat level remains severe / Rowena Macdonald.
“House of Commons secretary Grace has been counting the tea breaks in the same dull job for a decade. Brett, the new boy is on a mission to shake up the dusty backrooms of power and set to collide with Grace. Office life begins to look up when Grace receives some mysterious emails.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

As always the graphic novel collection provides readers with a multitude of choice with the variation of narrative, both visual and textual. For this month’s newsletter we have chosen examples of this diversification.

Syndetics book cover Josephine Baker / written by José-Louis Bocquet ; art by Catel Muller ; historical consultant, Jean-Claude Bouillon-Baker.
“Josephine Baker (1906-1975) was nineteen years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier, and Simenon. In the liberating atmosphere of the 1930s, Baker rose to fame as the first black star on the world stage, from London to Vienna, Alexandria to Buenos Aires. After World War II, and her time in the French Resistance, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, publicly battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered personally. A victim of racism throughout her life, Josephine Baker would sing of love and liberty until the day she died.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover On the Camino / Jason.
“Northwestern Spain, observed with the eye of an artist, chronicling both the good (people, conversations) and the bad (blisters, bedbugs) he encountered on his journey. Full of quiet incidents, odd encounters, small triumphs, and the occasional setback, On the Camino is the first implicitly autobiographical long-form work by a master cartoonist.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Rise of the dungeon master : Gary Gygax and the creation of D&D / David Kushner and Koren Shadmi.
Rise of the Dungeon Master tells, in graphic form, the story of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and; Dragons, one of the most influential games ever made. Like the game itself, the narrative casts the reader into the adventure from a first person point of view, taking on the roles of the different characters in the story. Gygax was the son of immigrants who grew up in Lake Geneva, WI, in the 1950s. An imaginative misfit, he escaped into a virtual world based on science fiction novels, military history and strategic games like chess. In the mid-1970s, he co-created the wildly popular Dungeons & Dragons game, determining the rules and inventing the signature 20-sided dice. Starting out in the basement of his home, he was soon struggling to keep up with the demand.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

In the selection of new mystery fiction this month there were several translated novels, giving an international flavour to this genre. Readers will enjoy the different cultures and societies represented in each mystery. A great way to enjoy armchair travel, providing the suspense and tension is not too disturbing.

Syndetics book cover The girl in the fog / Donato Carrisi ; translated by Howard Curtis.
“A man is arrested in the small town of Avechot. His shirt is covered in blood. Could this have anything to do with a missing girl called Anna Lou? What really happened to the girl? Detective Vogel will do anything to solve the mystery surrounding Anna Lou’s disappearance. When a media storm hits the quiet town, Vogel is sure that the suspect will be flushed out. Yet the clues are confusing, perhaps false, and following them may be a far cry from discovering the truth at the heart of a dark town.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Madness treads lightly / Polina Dashkova ; translated by Marian Schwartz.
“As a working mother, Lena Polyanskaya has her hands full. She’s busy caring for her two-year-old daughter, editing a successful magazine, and supporting her husband, a high-ranking colonel in counterintelligence. She doesn’t have time to play amateur detective. But when a close friend’s suspicious death is labeled a suicide, she’s determined to prove he wouldn’t have taken his own life. As Lena digs in to her investigation, all clues point to murder and its connection to a string of grisly cold-case homicides that stretches back to the Soviet era. When another person in her circle becomes a victim, Lena fears she and her family may be next. She’s determined to do whatever it takes to protect them. But will learning the truth unmask a killer or put her and her family in even more danger?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The Anthill murders / Hans Olav Lahlum ; translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson.
“1972. Across Oslo, a serial killer is hunting down young women. Each body found strangled and with a peculiar calling-card placed upon her body: a cut-out picture of an ant. The first victim is a timid theology student, the next a jazz singer, followed by the heir to one of the largest fortunes in Oslo. But despite Inspector K2’s best efforts to find a link, the only thing connecting them seems to be their murder. With assistant Patricia’s intellect put to the test and increasing pressure from his boss as the clock ticks down to the next possible killing, K2 is in danger of losing his position as Oslo’s leading homicide detective.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

The selection from our new science fiction and fantasy novels included several that were dystopian themed, and several novels that had immediate problems facing the world woven into the plots, such as global warming, animal rights and pandemics.

Syndetics book cover The city of brass / S. A. Chakraborty.
“Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by, palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing, are all tricks. But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale about Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. When Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Beacon 23 / Hugh Howey.
“For centuries, men and women have manned lighthouses to ensure the safe passage of ships. It is a lonely job and a thankless one for the most part, until something goes wrong, until a ship is in distress. In the 23rd century, this job has moved into outer space. A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at many times the speed of light. These beacons are built to be robust. They never break down. They never fail. At least, they aren’t supposed to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Dogs of war / Adrian Tchaikovsky.
My name is Rex. I am a good dog. Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. Rex is a genetically engineered Bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he’s got to kill a lot of enemies. But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

This is another month featuring New Zealand writers in our ‘Other Genre’ category. Hopefully this is an indication that New Zealand writing and publishing is flourishing. Almost all genres are represented, from historical fiction to mysteries and short stories, and with a New Zealand flavour.

Syndetics book cover Soldier’s son / by Ian Dodds.
“David sees his father’s World War II 2 ex-soldier macho behavior as being destructive and abusive. When his father gives up alcohol he sees that he could change himself too, and be a more sensitive man than his father has been. When he goes to Teachers College the seventies feminist wave is filtered through his feminist friends. This results in giving him the tools he needed to be the kind of father he wished he’d always had earlier in his life enabling him to be in tune with the roles of husband and father.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Salt picnic / Patrick Evans.
“All the time on the island there had been something she was looking for. She knew she had to keep this in mind, and that she’d know what it was when she found it, whatever it proved to be. It’s 1956 and Iola arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco’s Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? The mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she learns how easily the world can be obscured.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Baby / Annaleese Jochems
“Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen when her bootcamp instructor, the striking Anahera, suggests they run away together. With stolen money and a dog in tow they buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But there is an intruder waiting to upset Cynthia’s plans and when a trip to an island utopia goes horribly wrong, a rot sets in on their relationship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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New fiction featuring New Zealand writers

New Zealand writers are the feature of this month’s ‘other genre’ category. Included are the most recent novels from Catherine Chidgey and Catherine Robertson. Also after many years there is a collection of short stories from Laura Solomon that proves to be well worth the wait.

Syndetics book coverThe beat of the pendulum : a found novel / Catherine Chidgey.
The Beat of the Pendulum is the result of one year in which Chidgey drew upon the language she encountered on a daily basis, such as news stories, radio broadcasts, emails, social media, street signs, TV, and many conversations. As Chidgey filters and shapes the linguistic chaos of her recordings, a set of characters emerge, her family, including her young daughter, and her husband, mother and sister, her friends, and an extended family formed through surrogacy and donation. This is an exploration of human memory, how we acquire it, and how we lose it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe benefactor / Sebastian Hampson.
“Magazine editor Henry Calder’s ordered life has unraveled. He’s just been ousted from the glamorous job that gave his life meaning, and he lost his wife, Martha, less than a year ago. Then he meets Maggie, a rebellious young artist working as a bartender. When Maggie is evicted, Henry offers her a place to stay. But there is something about the young woman and her work that disturbs him, and before long Henry is facing a crisis neither of them could ever have foreseen.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeneath pale water / Thalia Henry.
“Set amidst the physical and psychological landscapes of New Zealand’s southern hills and grasslands, Beneath Pale Water is a social realist and expressionistic novel that follows a triangle of three damaged individuals, a sculptor, a vagrant and a model, who have grown calcified shells against the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll our secrets / Jennifer Lane.
“A girl called Gracie. A small town called Coongahoola with the dark Bagooli River running through it. The Bleeders, hundreds of ‘Believers’ who set up on the banks of the river, who start to buy up the town and win souls. The River Children, born in the aftermath of the infamous River Picnic. They begin to go missing, one after another. Gracie Barrett is the naively savvy spokesperson for her chaotic family (promiscuous dad, angry mum, twins Lucky and Grub, Elijah the River Child and fervent, prayerful Grandma Bett), for the kids who are taken, for the lurking fear that locks down the town and puts everyone under suspicion. Gracie is funny and kind, bullied and anguished, and her life spirals out of control when she discovers she knows what no one else does: who is responsible for the missing children.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNavigator : a novel / Anne Moir.
Navigator is the story of Southlander Joe Hassen’s childhood and his service as a navigator in Bomber Command in World War 2. He returns to Dunedin but cannot settle till he solves a mystery about his past. Finally, down a remote back road on the Southland coast, Joe finds an answer that completes the puzzle.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGabriel’s Bay / Catherine Robertson.
“Kerry Macfarlane has run away from his wedding-that-wasn’t. He lands in coastal Gabriel’s Bay, which bills itself as ‘a well-appointed small town’ on its website (last updated two decades ago). Here Kerry hopes to prove he’s not a complete failure. Or, at least, give his most convincing impression. But Gabriel’s Bay has its own problems, low employment, no tourists, and a daunting hill road between it and civilisation. And Kerry must also run the gauntlet of its inhabitants, Sidney, single mother deserted by a feckless ex; Mac, the straight-shooting doctor’s receptionist; a team of nine-year-olds; a giant restaurateur; and the local progressive association, who’ll debate apostrophe placement until the crack of doom. Can Kerry win their respect, and perhaps even love? Will his brilliant plan to transform the town’s fortunes earn him a lasting welcome in Gabriel’s Bay?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTaking Wainui / Laura Solomon.
“Thirteen stories in this collection show the skill of this gifted playwright, novelist and poet. With much humour, and flight s of fantasy, the stories are imaginative and thought provoking. The main story in the collection Taking Wainui concerns a boy who is the son of a Black Mamba gang leader. It is assumed that he will follow in his father’s footsteps and become a gang member too. However, he meets a lady who works stopping young people getting into gangs. He is given an initiation project of stealing from this lady’s house. She stops him in his tracks and talks him into not stealing from her, but going home to face his father instead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Nothing bad happens here / Nikki Crutchley.
“The body of missing tourist Bethany Haliwell is found in the small Coromandel town of Castle Bay, where nothing bad ever happens. News crews and journalists from all over the country descend on the small seaside town as old secrets are dragged up and gossip is taken as gospel. Among them is Miller Hatcher, a journalist battling her own demons, who arrives intent on gaining a promotion by covering the grisly murder. Following an anonymous tip, Miller begins to unravel the mystery of the small town. And when another woman goes missing, Miller finds herself getting closer to the truth. But at what cost?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

These short stories are perfect for summer holidays

This month, short stories are the feature of our ‘Other Genres’ category of fiction recent picks. There are collections from many much acclaimed writers including William Boyd, Helen Garner, P.D. James and our own Paula Morris. There are several debut short story collections also, one notably from Emily Fridlund whose first novel History of Wolves was shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize.

Syndetics book coverTell tale / Jeffrey Archer.
“Fourteen gripping and rewarding short stories from the master of short story writing. Find out what happens to the hapless young detective from Naples who travels to an Italian hillside town to solve a murder and the pretentious schoolboy whose discovery of the origins of his father’s wealth changes his life forever. Follow the stories of the woman who dares to challenge the men at her Ivy League university during the 1930s, and another young woman who thumbs a lift and has an encounter of a lifetime.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dreams of Bethany Mellmoth / William Boyd.
“A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs, seeking only passionate kisses as a substitute. A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life. Couple charts the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter. And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery. Original, funny, surprising and moving stories from a much acclaimed writer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe relive box and other stories / T. Coraghessan Boyle.
“Known as one of our greatest American novelists, Boyle’s sharp wit and rich imagination combine with a penetrating social consciousness to produce raucous, poignant, and expansive short stories defined by an inimitable voice. The twelve stories in this collection speak to the humor, the pathos, and the struggle that is part of being human while relishing the whimsy of wordplay and the power of a story well told.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCatapult : stories / Emily Fridlund.
“Following Emily Fridlund’s acclaimed debut novel History of Wolves . The characters in these stories are sometimes calculating, at other times bewildered, they orbit around each other, enacting a deeply human tragicomedy of wit, misunderstanding, and loss. With dexterous, atmospheric, and darkly comic prose, Fridlund conjures worlds where longing is open-ended, intentions misfire, and the line between comfort and cruelty is often difficult to discern. This is a gripping collection, unsettling as much in its familiarity as in its near-gothic strangeness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStories : the collected short fiction / Helen Garner.
“This collection of short fiction celebrates the seventy-fifth birthday of one of Australia’s most loved authors. These stories delve into the complexities of love and longing, of the pain, darkness and joy of life, are all told with her characteristic sharpness of observation, honesty and humour. Each one a perfect piece, together they showcase Garner’s mastery of the form.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUncommon type : some stories / Tom Hanks ; photographs by Kevin Twomey.
“A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor. In this first collection the stories are surprising, intelligent, and heartwarming.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSleep no more : six murderous tales / P. D. James ; foreword by Peter Kemp.
“From this brilliant crime writer, who is acknowledged as a past master of the short story, who weaves together motifs of crime-writing with deep psychological insight to create gripping, suspenseful tales. As the six murderous tales unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThat was a shiver : and other stories / James Kelman.
“A trucker passes through a town he used to know and a local tries to sell him his sister; a couple put their children to bed and hear a loud scratching at the wall; a Principal and his associate examine the dead body before them; a man looks into a mirror and reflects on becoming more like his father. Sparky, touching and brilliantly daring, these stories uncover human feeling in the ordinary and the everyday.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHer body and other parties : stories / Carmen Maria Machado.
“ In these stories the writer blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulist. There is a bending of bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFalse river : stories, essays, secret histories / Paula Morris.
“Fictional characters muse upon the truth behind real people, non-fiction pieces contain short interludes of fiction, fiction is written to read like an essay, made-up elements slip into true accounts. These pieces range the world, from America, to Antwerp to Aoteoroa, and talk about writers and writing, famous figures, family members, witch-burning in Denmark, cyclones and numerous pertinent and stimulating topics.”(Adapted from Syndeitics summary)

NZ writers feature in our latest ‘other genre’ fiction picks

This is the fourth ‘other genres’ selection featuring New Zealand writers this year. There has been an amazing number of novels from new and well known writers published this year. Included in this month’s selection are two veterans of New Zealand writing Patrick Evans and C. K. Stead, and two debut novelists, Michalia Arathimos and Jonothan Cullinane.

Syndetics book coverAukati / Michalia Arathimos.
“Alexia is a law student escaping the Greek family that stifles her, and Isaiah is a young Maori returning home to find the family he’s lost. Cut loose from their own cultures, they have volunteered to help Isaiah’s Taranaki iwi get rid of the fracking that’s devastating their land and water. The deeper Alexia and Isaiah go into the fight, the closer they get to understand the different worlds they inhabit. But when a protest march becomes violent a boundary is crossed, and they need to decide where they stand and fast. It’s clear the police have been tipped off, and the activists gathered at the marae suspect they’re being watched or, worse, there is an informant in the group. Can Alexia and Isaiah be trusted and can they trust themselves?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the white Gate / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“In a park in an antipodean city in the 1930s a teenaged boy starts work as an apprentice nurseryman. It’s an idyllic world, patient and unhurried, with a pace as predictable as the seasons; this is a miniature version of the pre-war colonial empire lying just beyond the park gates. But as secure as the park may seem it can’t protect anyone, least of all Tommy, from the changing world outside. There’s a war coming, an unwanted baby and heartbreaking changes at home. Through all this the park is a constant, a companion, a teacher, a home and a friend. With it he grows, learning wisdom and patience, as the park brings him friendship, love, knowledge and family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe direction of our fear / David Briggs.
“On a morning commuter train in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, the lives of three people briefly intersect. Sally is a 17-year-old, tentatively stepping into womanhood. Brendan is a middle-aged widower, living in the shadow of his wife’s death. Tamas is a Hungarian immigrant, missing his wife and child as he struggles to begin a new life far from home. Meanwhile, in a nondescript building near Dunedin’s Otago University, Farida translates messages for the security services and catches glimpses of a plot that could threaten them all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRed herring / Jonothan Cullinane.
“In Auckland 1951 the workers and the government are heading for bloody confrontation and the waterfront is the frontline. But this is a war with more than two sides and nothing is what it seems. Into the secret world of rival union politics, dark political agendas and worldwide anti-communist hysteria steps Johnny Molloy, a private detective with secrets of his own. Caitlin O’Carolan, a feisty young reporter, is following her own leads. Together they begin to uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Establishment – and which will threaten their own lives in the process.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSoldier’s son / by Ian Dodds.
“David sees his father’s World War II 2 ex-soldier macho behavior as being destructive and abusive. When his father gives up alcohol he sees that he could change himself too, and be a more sensitive man than his father has been. When he goes to Teachers College the seventies feminist wave is filtered through his feminist friends. This results in giving him the tools he needed to be the kind of father he wished he’d always had earlier in his life enabling him to be in tune with the roles of husband and father.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSalt picnic / Patrick Evans.
“All the time on the island there had been something she was looking for. She knew she had to keep this in mind, and that she’d know what it was when she found it, whatever it proved to be. It’s 1956 and Iola arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco’s Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? The mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she learns how easily the world can be obscured.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSodden downstream / Brannavan Gnanalingam.
“Thousands flee central Wellington as a far too common ‘once in a century’ storm descends. Roads are closed and all rail is halted. For their own safety, city workers are told that they must go home early. Sita is a Tamil Sri Lankan refugee living in the Hutt Valley. She’s just had a call from her boss. If she doesn’t get to her cleaning job in the city she’ll lose her contract. This novel charts the help and hindrances that make for a long, damp evening. But the book also highlights the kinds of care and solidarity that come out in times of need.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBaby / Annaleese Jochems
“Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen when her bootcamp instructor, the striking Anahera, suggests they run away together. With stolen money and a dog in tow they buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But there is an intruder waiting to upset Cynthia’s plans and when a trip to an island utopia goes horribly wrong, a rot sets in on their relationship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe necessary angel / C. K. Stead.
“A beautifully written, carefully observed novel that takes you to the heart of contemporary Paris and into a world of books and witty conversation. It can be read on many levels, as a story of people grappling with love and fidelity; as a story about the importance of books in everyday life; as a commentary on living in complex modern-day Europe; and as a page-turning mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOperation Iran / Brian Wilson.
“The CIA have a double agent leaking secrets to the Chinese. In an attempt to identify the double agent, Adam Brown, a senior CIA operative disappears leading to speculation and confusion, which is added to when Frank, a world renowned physicist becomes involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read around the globe: New translated fiction

Translated novels feature in this month’s selection of ‘Other Genres’ fiction. With some wonderful novels, translated from Swedish, Mandarin, Norwegian, Japanese, Spanish, French, Turkish and Hungarian, many hours of reading pleasure are guaranteed.

Syndetics book coverNevada days / Bernardo Atxaga ; translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa.
“A fictionalised account of the author’s nine months’ stay as writer-in-residence at the Centre for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. He is accompanied by his wife, Angela, who is also doing research there, and by their two daughters. During their first few weeks, the family encounter a strange mapache (racoon), which is always staring at them from the garden, a flight of helicopters immediately overhead, a black widow spider, a warning about bears, a party of prisoners in the desert, a lake that is somehow far too calm and too blue, and, not long into their stay, the kidnap and murder of a young girl living in the house right next door.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPenance / Kanae Minato ; translated by Philip Gabriel.
“The tense, chilling story of four women haunted by a childhood trauma. When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emili by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emili is found murdered hours later. Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emili’s body was discovered. Asako, Emili’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWaiting for Monsieur Bellivier / Britta Röstlund ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies.
“Are you waiting for Monsieur Belliver, madame? Helena Folasadu should of course say no. She doesn’t know the man talking to her, she doesn’t know Monsieur Bellivier, and she certainly isn’t waiting for him. But, bored of life, and sparked by a whim, she says yes. The go-between leads her to a deserted floor in an office building and offers her a large sum of money to sit at a computer and forward emails to Monsieur Bellivier. The emails turn out to be in code, and the bouquets Helena is handed every evening entangle her in an even greater mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe history of bees / Maja Lunde.
“England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame. United States, 2007, George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation. China 2098, Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him. Three very different narratives lead into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSundays in August / Patrick Modiano ; translated from the French by Damion Searls.
“Stolen jewels, black markets, hired guns, crossed lovers, unregistered addresses, people gone missing, shadowy figures disappearing in crowds, newspaper stories uncomfortably close and getting closer, this ominous novel is Set in Nice. A young couple in hiding keeps close watch over a notorious diamond necklace known as the Southern Cross, with its provenance murky, only they know it’s whereabouts, who find themselves trapped by its potential value, and its ultimate cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe red-haired woman / Orhan Pamuk ; translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.
“On the outskirts of a town thirty miles from Istanbul a master well digger and his young apprentice are hired to find water on a barren plain. As they struggle in the summer heat, the two will develop a filial bond neither has known before. In the nearby town, the boy will find an irresistible diversion. The Red Haired woman, an irresistibly alluring member of a travelling theatre company, catches his eye and seems as fascinated by him as he is by her. The young man’s wildest dream will be realized, but, when in his distraction, a horrible accident befalls the well-digger; the boy will flee, returning to Istanbul. Only years later will he discover whether he was in fact responsible for his master’s death and who the redheaded enchantress was.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe children / Carolina Sanín ; translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor.
“One day, as she enters her local supermarket, Laura Romero has a startling encounter with a beggar, who seems to offer her a child. A short while later, in the middle of the night, she discovers a mysterious young boy on the pavement outside her apartment building: Fidel, who is six years old, a child with seemingly no origins or meaning. With few clues to guide her as she tries to attach significance to his presence, Laura find herself swept into a bureaucratic maelstrom of fantastical proportions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKatalin Street / Magda Szabó ; translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix.
“In prewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. Their lives are torn apart in 1944 by the German occupation, which only the Elekes family survives intact. The postwar regime relocates them to a cramped Soviet-style apartment and they struggle to come to terms with social and political change, personal loss, and unstated feelings of guilt over the deportation of the Held parents and the death of little Henriette, who had been left in their protection.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe postman’s fiancée / Denis Thériault ; translated by John Cullen.
“Tania moves from Bavaria to Montreal to fine-tune her French and fall in love. Finding work as a waitress at a low-key restaurant in a working-class area of the city, she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who writes haiku and who is passionate about calligraphy. The two become friends. One stormy day their lives take a dramatic turn, and as their destinies become increasingly entwined the two are led into a world where nothing is as it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Must reads from this month’s fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book cover A wonderfully rendered retelling of this exciting classic novel.

Syndetics book coverOne of the best apocalyptic science fiction novels yet.

Syndetics book coverA gripping highly charged mystery.

Syndetics book coverA suspenseful, almost gothic story of family, love and disappointment in one New Zealand family.

Syndetics book cover An emotionally deep novel about survival, fear and courage.

Fling yourself into this month’s new fiction

Welcome to the latest fiction newsletter. Here we showcase some of the most exciting new fiction in each genre. This month we feature New Zealand writers in out ‘Other Genres’ category. All sections are linked to the full list of recent picks selections from our new additions to the collection. We wish you many hours of entertaining and satisfying reading.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

The selection of new contemporary novels this month includes new novels from some highly acclaimed authors, and several debut novels that will surely secure each author’s future writing career. For this newsletter we have highlighted three debut novels so readers can judge this for themselves.

Syndetics book cover The Pacific room / Michael Fitzgerald.
“This remarkable debut novel tells of the last days of Tusitala, ‘the teller of tales’, as Robert Louis Stevenson became known in Samoa where he chose to die. In 1892 Girolamo Nerli travels from Sydney by steamer to Apia, with the intention of capturing something of Jekyll and Hyde in his portrait of the famous author. Nerli’s presence sets in train a disturbing sequence of events. More than a century later, art historian Lewis Wakefield comes to Samoa to research the painting of Tusitala’s portrait by the long-forgotten Italian artist. On hiatus from his bipolar medication, Lewis is freed to confront the powerful reality of all the desires and demons that R. L. Stevenson couldn’t control.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Goodbye, vitamin : a novel / Rachel Khong.
“Freshly disengaged from her fiancé; and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she’d realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth’s father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming her all her grief.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The sixteen trees of the Somme / Lars Mytting ; translated from the Norwegian by Paul Russell Garrett
“Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery, he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother. But he knows that the fate of his grandfather’s brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death, a meticulous, beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all. Edvard’s desperate quest to unlock the family’s tragic secrets takes him on a long journey, from Norway to the Shetlands, and to the battlefields of France, to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

As always the new graphic novels illustrate the diversity of this collection, with narratives ranging from comedy to tragedy, from modern life to horror, from the sublime to the surreal, and all with extraordinary art work. We hope the three titles chosen for this newsletter illustrate this diversity.

Syndetics book cover Little Tulip / Jerome Charyn and François Boucq.
“A serial killer haunts the city streets, a stalker of isolated women who leaves a Santa Claus hat at the scene of his crimes. Pavel, a Russian emigre assists the police investigation as a sketch artist. But Pavel’s true calling is as a tattoo artist, and the so-called Bad Santa killings conjure up memories of the nightmarish world in which he learned his craft: a Russian prison camp that shattered his childhood and destroyed his family. Shifting between the living hell of a 1940s Siberian gulag and the crime-ridden chaos of New York City during the 1970s, this graphic novel’s stunning artwork provides an atmospheric backdrop to its tale of corruption, murder, and revenge.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Pretending is lying / Dominique Goblet ; translated by Sophie Yanow in collaboration with the author.
“The first book to appear in English by the acclaimed Belgian artist Dominique Goblet, Pretending is Lying is a memoir unlike any other. In a series of dazzling fragments–skipping through time, Goblet examines the most important relationships in her life: with her partner, Guy Marc; with her daughter, Nikita; and with her parents.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The Black Monday murders. Volume 1, All hail, God Mammon / words by Jonathan Hickman ; art by Tomm Coker.
“A new crypto-noir series about the power of dirty, filthy money and exactly what kind of people you can buy with it. THE BLACK MONDAY MURDERS is classic occultism where the various schools of magic are actually clandestine banking cartels that control all of society: a secret world where vampire Russian oligarchs, Black popes, enchanted American aristocrats, and hitmen from the International Monetary Fund work together to keep global control.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

This month many very popular, much acclaimed writers were included in our monthly selection of new mystery novels. The three titles chosen for this newsletter will hopefully tempt fans of this genre to pursue the complete list of selected new mysteries.

Syndetics book cover Glass souls : moths for commissario Ricciardi / Maurizio de Giovanni ; translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar.
“In the abyss of a profound personal crisis, Commissario Ricciardi feels unable to open himself up to life. He has refused the love of both Enrica and Livia and the friendship of his partner. Contentment for Ricciardi proves as elusive as clues to his latest case. The beautiful countess Bianca, pleads with him to investigate an officially closed case. In the tense, charged atmosphere of 1930s Italy, where Benito Mussolini and his fascist thugs monitor the police, an unauthorized investigation is grounds for immediate dismissal. But Ricciardi’s thirst for justice cannot be sated.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Ordeal / Jorn Lier Horst ; translated by Anne Bruce.
“Together with her one year old daughter Maja, single mother Sofie Lund moves into the house she inherited from her grandfather. Sofie has such painful memories that she has had every trace of the old man removed, every trace but a locked safe that has been bolted to the basement floor. Inside the safe, Sofie finds something shocking that will also become crucial evidence in a case that has plagued Inspector William Wisting for a long time. Following this lead though, he will cut across important loyalties and undermine confidence in the police force.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Only human / Kristine Næss ; translated from the Norwegian by Seán Kinsella.
“Bea Britt lives alone in her grandmother’s house in west Oslo. Early one morning, she wakes to find a police hunt outside her window and drama unfolding on her TV. Volunteers are scouring the local woods looking for Emilie, a missing schoolgirl. Emilie’s rucksack is found in Bea Britt’s garden. But as her spiraling doubts and suspicions take over, is she a suspect, a witness or a potential second victim?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

All aspects of science fiction and fantasy, dystopian fiction, space warfare, aliens, magic, planetary missions, and much more are represented each month in our selections from the new novels added to Wellington City Libraries collection. Readers of this genre are always guaranteed hours of escapist pleasure.

Syndetics book cover The management style of the Supreme Beings : A novel / Tom Holt.
“When the Supreme Being and his son decide that being supreme isn’t for them anymore, it’s inevitable that things get a bit of a shake-up. It soon becomes apparent that our new owners, the Venturi brothers, have a very different perspective on all sorts of things. Take good and evil, for example. For them, it’s an outdated concept that never worked particularly well in the first place. Unfortunately, the sudden disappearance of right and wrong, while welcomed by some, raises certain concerns amongst those still attached to the previous team’s management style. In particular, there’s one of the old gods who didn’t move out with the others. A reclusive chap, he lives somewhere up north, and only a handful even believe in him. But he’s watching. And he really does need to know if you’ve been naughty or nice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Exodus / Alex Lamb.
“The Photurians, a hive mind of sentient AIs and machines, were awakened by humanity as part of a complex political trap. But they broke free, evolved, and now the human race is almost finished. Once we spanned dozens of star systems; now only four remain, and Earth is being evacuated. But the Photes can infect us, and among the thousands rescued from our home world may be enemy agents. Tiny colonies struggle to house the displaced. Our warships are failing. The end of humanity has come. But on a distant planet shielded from both humanity and the Photurians, one hope may still live. There is only person who might be able to intervene, the roboteer. He is trapped in a hell of his own making, and does not know he is needed. So a desperate rescue mission is begun. But can he be reached in time? Or will he be the last remnant of humanity in the universe?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The White City / Simon Morden.
“Since escaping London’s inferno, Mary and Dalip have fought monsters and won, though in the magical world of Down, the most frightening monsters come from within. Now they hold the greatest of treasures: maps that reveal the way to the White City, where they can find the answers they’re looking for, and learn the secrets of Down. But to get there they must rely on Crows, who has already betrayed them at every turn. As they battle their way towards the one place in all of Down without magic, they must ask themselves how far they will go to find their way home. After all, if there’s one thing the White City offers those brave enough to enter, it’s more than they bargained for.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

This month we featured New Zealand writers, with much variation of genre with mysteries, psychological thrillers, science fiction, historical, and contemporary life all represented. This newsletter selection highlights some great reads by some of New Zealand’s best writers.

Syndetics book cover The sound of her voice : one cop’s descent into darkness / Nathan Blackwell.
“To Detective Matt Buchanan, the world is a pretty sick place. He has probably been in the job too long, for one thing. And then there’s 14-year-old Samantha Coates, and the other unsolved murder cases. Those innocent girls he just can’t get out of his head. When Buchanan pursues some fresh leads, it soon becomes clear he’s on the trail of something big. As he pieces the horrific crimes together, Buchanan finds the very foundations of everything he once believed in start to crumble.” (Adapted from Syndeics summary)
Syndetics book cover A killer harvest / Paul Cleave.
“Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It has taken loved ones from him, it has robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason why his father is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: an operation that will allow him to see the world through his father’s eyes. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what these eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. What exactly was his dad up to in his role as a police officer? There are consequences to the secret life his father was living, and these consequences come in the form of a man hell bent on killing, consequences that bring this man closer and closer to Joshua.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Decline & fall on Savage Street / Fiona Farrell.
“A fascinating novel about a house with a fanciful little turret, built by a river. Unfolding within its rooms are lives of event and emotional upheaval. A lot happens. And the tumultuous events of the twentieth century also leave their mark, from war to economic collapse, the deaths of presidents and princesses to new waves of music, art, architecture and political ideas. Meanwhile, a few metres away in the river, another creature follows a different, slower rhythm. And beneath them all, the planet moves to its own immense geological time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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