Fiction to film: #NZIFF 2018

Disobedience book cover

The New Zealand International Film Festival 2018 is nearly here! Tickets are booked, cinemas mapped out and movies selected and re-selected! The festival has such a range of fantastic movies that you wonder where all the ideas come from! Some can be found between the covers of some popular, and some more obscure literary works.  If you really enjoy something at the festival and want to read the inspiration source, some of them can be found here in our libraries.


Disobedience, directed by Sebastián Lelio, based on:
Disobedience / Alderman, Naomi
Disobedience is a novel that illuminates a culture that has existed in Britain for centuries, yet remains almost entirely hidden. Naomi Alderman offers a contemporary take on the search for love, faith and understanding in a world filled with conflicting moral and sexual ideals.” (Catalogue)

Border, directed by Ali Abbasi, based on:
Let the old dreams die / Ajvide Lindqvist, John
This short story collection includes Burning adapted and expanded by Iranian-born Swedish filmmaker Ali Abbasi.
“A classic short story collection from the writer called Sweden’s Stephen King that continues the breathtaking story begun in the internationally acclaimed classic Let the Right One In, also in “Final Processing,” Lindqvist reveals the next chapter in the lives of the characters he created in Handling the Undead.” (Catalogue)

Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders, directed by Joe Berlinger, based on:
In cold blood / Capote, Truman
“Truman Capote’s masterpiece, In Cold Blood, created a sensation when it was first published, serially, in The New Yorker in 1965. The intensively researched, atmospheric narrative of the lives of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, and of the two men, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, who brutally killed them on the night of November 15, 1959, is the seminal work of the “new journalism.” Capote’s account is so detailed that the reader comes to feel almost like a participant in the events.” (Catalogue)

Piercing, directed by Nicolas Pesce, based on:
Piercing / Murakami, Ryū
“The follow up to In the Miso Soup, Piercing confirms Ryu Murakami as the master of the psycho-thriller.” (Catalogue)

Wildlife, directed by Paul Dano, based on:
Wildlife / Ford, Richard
“Ford’s fourth novel is set in the same Western landscape that so distinguished his acclaimed collection Rock Springs, and with it he extends his reputation as one of the most compelling and eloquent storytellers of his generation, providing us with both the pleasures of narrative and the sad wisdom of art. Wildlife is the story of coming out into the world as it resolutely is, never the world we hope it is.” (Catalogue)

Juliet, Naked, directed by Jesse Peretz, based on:
Juliet, naked / Hornby, Nick
“This novel is about the nature of creativity and obsession, and how two lonely people can gradually find each other.” (Catalogue)

Burning, directed by Lee Chang-dong, based on:
The Elephant vanishes / Murakami, Haruki
This collection includes Barn Burning which has been translated into the film Burning by Korean director Lee Chang-dong.
“By turns haunting and hilarious, The Elephant Vanishes is further proof of Murakami’s ability to cross the border between separate realities — and to come back bearing treasure.” (Catalogue)

No Shame, directed by Brendan Donovan, based on:
The lazy boys : a novel / Shuker, R. Carl
The film No Shame by directed by Brendan Donovan is one of the New Zealand’s Best short film finalists of 2018.
“Like a punch in the stomach or a sustained cry, Carl Shuker’s risky and harrowing first person narrative is as visceral as Fight Club and as brutal as A Clockwork Orange. On the surface Richey’s actions are unforgivable, but his unformed and distorted world is immediate and recognizable to a generation brought up in a society indifferent to its own nihilism.” (Catalogue)

Lean on Pete, directed by Andrew Haigh, based on:
Lean on Pete : a novel / Vlautin, Willy
“Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home; food on the table; a high school he can attend for more than part of a year; and some structure to his life. But as the son of a single father working at warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, he’s been pretty much on his own for some time. Lean on Pete opens as he and his father arrive in Portland, Oregon and Charley takes a stables job, illegally, at the local race track. It’s there that Charley meets Pete, an old horse who becomes his companion as he’s forced to try to make his own way in the world. A portrait of a journey, Lean on Pete is also the unforgettable story of a friendship and of hope in dark times.” (Adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Breath, directed by Simon Baker, based on:
Breath / Winton, Tim
“Bruce Pike, or ‘Pikelet’, has lived all his short life in a tiny sawmilling town from where the thundering sea can be heard at night. He longs to be down there on the beach, amidst the pounding waves, but for some reason his parents forbid him. It’s only when he befriends Loonie, the local wild boy, that he finally defies them. Intoxicated by the treacherous power of the sea and by their own youthful endurance, the two boys spurn all limits and rules, and fall into the company of adult mentors whose own addictions to risk take them to places they could never have imagined.” (Catalogue)

We also have to mention a documentary we’re very excited about seeing: Ex Libris: The New York Public Library. “Standing in for libraries everywhere, the magnificent New York Public Library is explored and extolled in the great Frederick Wiseman’s latest ode to the importance of essential institutions in politically tumultuous times.” We can’t wait! In the meantime, you might enjoy this book, featuring NYPL in its pages:

The public library : a photographic essay / Dawson, Robert
“Many of us have vivid recollections of childhood visits to a public library: the unmistakable musty scent, the excitement of checking out a stack of newly discovered books. Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed the country documenting hundreds of these endangered institutions. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson’s photographs from the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library to Allensworth, California’s one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves. Accompanying Dawson’s revealing photographs are essays, letters, and poetry by some of America’s most celebrated writers. A foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett bookend this important survey of a treasured American institution.” (Catalogue)

Non-Fic recent picks, mostly concerning crime this month

New non-fic books for November.. featuring True Crime.

Syndetics book coverTinseltown : murder, morphine, and madness at the dawn of Hollywood / William J. Mann.
“…By 1920, the movies had suddenly become America’s new favorite pastime, and one of the nation’s largest industries. Never before had a medium possessed such power to influence. Yet Hollywood’s glittering ascendency was threatened by a string of headline-grabbing tragedies–including the murder of William Desmond Taylor, the popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a legendary crime that has remained unsolved until now. In a fiendishly involving narrative, bestselling Hollywood chronicler William J. Mann draws on a rich host of sources, including recently released FBI files, to unpack the story of the enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded him–including three beautiful, ambitious actresses; a grasping stage mother; a devoted valet; and a gang of two-bit thugs, any of whom might have fired the fatal bullet…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe slaughter : mass killings, organ harvesting, and China’s secret solution to its dissident problem / Ethan Gutmann.
“Mass murder is alive and well. That is the stark conclusion of this comprehensive investigation into the Chinese state’s secret program to get rid of political dissidents while profiting from the sale of their organs–in many cases to Western recipients. Based on interviews with top-ranking police officials and Chinese doctors who have killed prisoners on the operating table, veteran China analyst Ethan Gutmann has produced a riveting insider’s account–culminating in a death toll that will shock the world. Why would the Chinese leadership encourage such a dangerous perversion of their medical system? To solve the puzzle, Gutmann journeyed deep into the dissident archipelago of Falun Gong, Tibetans, Uighurs and House Christians, uncovering an ageless drama of resistance, eliciting confessions of deep betrayal and moments of ecstatic redemption. In an age of compassion fatigue, Gutmann relies on one simple truth: those who have made it back from the gates of hell have stories to tell…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Valentino affair : the jazz age murder scandal that shocked New York society and gripped the world / Colin Evans.
“Few of silent film heartthrob Rudolph Valentino’s adoring fans knew that he got his start by trying to escape a dirty secret. The lurid tale began in 1912 when notorious playboy Jack de Saulles made headlines by marrying the beautiful young heiress Blanca Errázuriz. After the birth of their son, though, Jack was chasing every chorus girl on Broadway. By 1916, Blanca wanted a divorce and discovered that one of her husband’s mistresses was the dance partner of Rodolfo Guglielmi, a professional tango dancer. Blanca cultivated the young performer, and the ambitious Italian gave evidence on her behalf in divorce court. Furious, de Saulles had Guglielmi arrested on trumped-up vice charges, tarnishing the dancer’s reputation. Then, one sweltering August night when it looked like de Saulles wasn’t going to share custody of their son, Blanca shot him dead. Her family hired the best defense lawyer, who savaged de Saulles’s reputation and painted Blanca as a saint. During the “most sensational trial of the decade,” millions devoured the details of how the high-society marriage had unraveled. Guglielmi, who had already fled to California to avoid poisonous publicity, changed his name to Rudolph Valentino and became Hollywood history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFetch the devil : the Sierra Diablo murders and Nazi espionage in America / Clint Richmond.
“In 1938, Hazel Frome, the wife of a powerful executive at Atlas Powder Company, a San Francisco explosives manufacturer, set out on a cross-country motor trip with her twenty-three-year-old daughter, Nancy. When their car broke down in El Paso, Texas, they made the most of being stranded by staying at a posh hotel and crossing the border to Juarez for shopping, dining, and drinking. A week later, their near-nude bodies were found in the Chihuahuan Desert. Though they had been seen on occasion with two mystery men, there were no clues as to why they had apparently been abducted, tortured for days, and shot execution style. El Paso sheriff Chris Fox, a lawman right out of central casting, engaged in a turf war with the Texas Rangers and local officials that hampered the investigation. But the victims’ detours had placed them in the path of a Nazi spy ring operating from the West Coast to Latin America through a deep-cover portal at El Paso. The sleeper cell was run by spymasters at the German consulate in San Francisco. In 1938, only the inner circle of the Roosevelt White House and a few FBI agents were aware of the extent to which German agents had infiltrated American industry…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLaw and disorder : absurdly funny moments from the courts / Charles M. Sevilla ; illustrations by Lee Lorenz.
“Charles M. Sevilla finds comic gems in court transcripts– and now brings readers a delightful, all-new collection. Starting with a chapter on the defendants (one of whom, when asked his marital status, replies after a long pause, “Adequate”) and following with sections on lawyers, experts, witnesses, evidence, and even one called “Malaprops” (DA: The status of the boat has no relevance to this case at all. This is a total fishing expedition). Stories from the previous books have become viral Internet sensations, priming readers for more legal disorder, such as: Clerk: Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to given in the cause now pending before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Witness: Yes, I swear. I’ll say anything but the truth, nothing but the truth.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dark net : inside the digital world / Jamie Bartlett.
“The online world we inhabit represents only a small fraction of the internet. Beyond Google and commercial web browsers lies a parallel universe: a ‘deep web’ twenty-five times larger than the surface web we know; a world of private chat rooms, second lives, anonymous markets and hidden sites: places where people stretch freedom to its limits to be anything, and do anything, they want. ‘The Dark Net’ is an examination of the hidden corners of the internet and the strange subcultures and protagonists that inhabit it.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVillains, scoundrels, and rogues : incredible true tales of mischief and mayhem / Paul Martin.
“Everyone loves a good villain! From the back pages of history, vivid, entertaining portraits of little-known scoundrels whose misdeeds range from the simply inept to the truly horrifying. Even if you’re an avid history buff, you’ve probably never heard of this disreputable cast of characters: A drunken, ne’er-do-well cop who abandoned his post at Ford’s Theatre, giving assassin John Wilkes Booth unchallenged access to President Lincoln; a notorious Kansas quack who made millions by implanting billy goat testicles in gullible male patients; and America’s worst female serial killer ever. …author and former National Geographic editor Paul Martin serves up concise, colorful biographies of thirty of America’s most outrageous characters. Whether readers choose to be horrified by the story of Ed Gein, Alfred Hitchcock’s hideous inspiration for Psycho, or marvel at the clever duplicity of the con artist who originated the phony bookie operation portrayed in The Sting, there’s something here for everyone…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe underground girls of Kabul : in search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan / Jenny Nordberg.
“An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child – a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg… constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom. The Underground Girls of Kabul is anchored by vivid characters who bring this remarkable story to life: Azita, a female parliamentarian who sees no other choice but to turn her fourth daughter Mehran into a boy; Zahra, the tomboy teenager who struggles with puberty and refuses her parents’ attempts to turn her back into a girl; Shukria, now a married mother of three after living for twenty years as a man; and Nader, who prays with Shahed, the undercover female police officer, as they both remain in male disguise as adults…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDangerous odds / Marisa Lankester.
Dangerous odds – a True Crime Thriller Memoire – is the explosive, never been told, behind the scenes look into the world of illegal sports betting, revealed by an insider, who happens to be a woman. Marisa Lankester, a young beauty with a privileged New York upbringing, stumbles into the backdoor of the largest illegal sports betting organization in the U.S., run by Ron The Cigar Sacco. Marisa, a thrill seeker, maneuvers herself into this mob run men only bookmaking operation and with her looks and brains, becomes a trusted insider. Along the way, Marisa falls in love with Sacco’s business partner, charismatic Tony. In an attempt to evade the wrath of the FBI, Marisa and Tony relocate Sacco’s operation from Los Angeles first to Las Vegas and then to the Dominican Republic where gambling is legal…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Non-Fiction: The big issues, from fracking to Julia Caesar & the Kevin Sutra

This month’s selection of new non-fiction books spans a variety of environmental and political issues.  From a new addition on fracking to a hilarious romp through the three years of the Gillard/Rudd government (Beyond satire : Julia Caesar & the Kevin Sutra), this month you’re spoilt for choice.

Syndetics book coverThe looting of America : how Wall Street’s game of fantasy finance destroyed our jobs, pensions, and prosperity, and what we can do about it / Les Leopold.
“Deeming himself the “Main Streeter” to explain the economic crisis to average Americans, author and researcher Leopold (The Men Who Hated Work and Loved Labor) does a cagey job explaining credit derivative obligations (CDOs), and their role in the financial meltdown, in populist terms. His astute arguments make it clear that the blame earned by Wall Street and (to some degree) the government has been displaced onto ordinary Americans.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe world as it is : dispatches on the myth of human progress / Chris Hedges.
“This latest volume from famed war correspondent and columnist Chris Hedges presents a series of essays, previously published on the blog Truthdig, exploring a wide range of problems facing the left and progressive movements around the world. Topics discussed include the war in Afghanistan, the conflict in Israel-Palestine, the American left and President Obama, media collusion with corporate America, and the decline of the American empire. Hedges provides a pointed and cogent analysis of the current state of world affairs and a clear and well written explanation of what he believes is necessary to “right the ship.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe far enemy : why Jihad went global / Fawaz A. Gerges.
“With its up-to-the-minute, insider’s perspective, this groundbreaking book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the true nature of the international jihadist movement, based on interviews with jihadists, documents, and unpublished manifestos.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInquiries into the nature of slow money : investing as if food, farms, and fertility mattered / Woody Tasch ; [foreword by Carlo Petrini].
Inquiries into the nature of slow money presents the path for bringing money back down to earth – philosophically, strategically, and pragmatically – and with an entreprenurial spirit that is informed by decades of work by the thousands of CEOs, investers, grantmakers, food producers and consumers who are seeding the retorative economy.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverSua sponte : the forging of a modern American Ranger / Dick Couch.
“The title of this gripping volume means ‘of free will’. It is the motto of the U.S. Army’s 75th Infantry Regiment, the Rangers. Couch, a former SEALs and CIA man, brings high expertise to his subject and has had exceptional cooperation from the army in general and the Ranger community, active and retired, in studying the Rangers. The Rangers are pure warriors and try to recruit people willing to become such to fight frequently against the odds but with a wide range of highly-developed skills that usually evens the combat.” (adpted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWonder women : sex, power, and the quest for perfection / Debora L. Spar.
“Barnard College president Spar (The Baby Business) skillfully addresses the state of feminism and suggests that, despite historic gains in education, the workforce, and equal rights, American women suffer under “an excruciating set of mutually exclusive expectations” resulting, paradoxically, from the proliferation of options that feminism made possible. Drawing on her experiences as well as extensive research, Spar lucidly traces how the movement’s “expansive and revolutionary” political goals have evolved into a set of “vast and towering expectations” that trouble women at every stage of their lives. Wisely forgoing hostility or blame, Spar finds women struggling, if anything, with the fantasy of “having it all.” “We’re doing this to ourselves,” she writes. Her solutions call for sanity and simplicity: to kill “the myths of female perfection” and recommit to the goals of early feminism, abandoning the “individualized quest” in favor of organizational and collective change.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeyond satire : Julia Caesar & the Kevin Sutra / Rowan Dean.
“Romping hilariously through the three years of the Gillard/Rudd government, Rowan Dean’s sharp pen and eagle eye chronicle the finest and funniest moments of what has been an exhilarating roller-coaster ride. From the back-stabbing intrigues of Julia Caesar in ancient Rome to the reincarnation of Kevin VII and the latest positions of the Kevin Sutra, from Mission Impossible exploits of forged credit cards and high class hookers to evil climate change denier monsters and ‘the world’s greatest treasurer’, from people smugglers to pink batts to politician pop stars, the most entertaining political story in Australian history finally gets the book it richly deserves. Whether you’re keen to learn how Kevin finally pulled it off, or to complete a course in dismantling democracy, or to brush up on your spin and media manipulation techniques, Beyond Satire will bring tears to your eyes of laughter. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe default line / Faisal Islam.
“Why did Greece have to use military aeroplanes to fly in Euros at the height of its debt crisis? How can a banking system become so unregulated that it offers a gold credit card to a dog? For Channel 4’s Economics Editor Faisal Islam, these are examples of nations, institutions, and individuals crossing the ‘default line’, the point at which the optimism of economic boom flips into fiscal madness.
Having exposed the Icelandic banking crisis, watched Lehman Bros crash, investigated emerging economies in India and China and interviewed a host of key international players from the Governor of the Bank of England to the head of the the Chinese sovereign wealth fund, Faisal Islam is the perfect guide to the global economic crisis.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalk in their shoes : can one person change the world? / Jim Ziolkowski, founder of buildOn with James S. Hirsch.
“Twenty-one years ago, Ziolkowski, then a student in the financial management program at GE Capital, was being groomed for a promising career, but after a backpacking trip in Nepal showed him how simple generosity could change the lives of the impoverished, he quit the course and founded the nonprofit buildOn, which brings education to inner-city teens, and transforms them into community service leaders in the U.S. and abroad. After struggling to secure funding and organize volunteers, Ziolkowski begins traveling the globe, documenting injustices in apartheid-era South Africa and among the street children of Brazil, while rallying the community to come together and build schools for their children. Ziolkowski balances sobering facts with an approachable writing style. His unflinching determination drove him to establish over 500 schools, turning buildOn from a nascent dream into a multimillion-dollar phenomenon. He believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPractice to deceive / Ann Rule.
“This is Rule’s twenty-fourth true-crime book. Her latest extends an analogy she has often used: how an investigation into homicide takes, basically, a stick drawing of a person, the victim, and with each piece of evidence and parts of interviews, transforms the stick figure into a rounded, complex human being whose life holds the key to his or her death. In 2003, a man’s body was discovered in a car parked in front of a cabin on Whidbey Island, Washington. The victim, Russel Douglas, had a single gunshot wound to his head. The investigation took years to complete (it took a decade to come to trial) and wound through seven states and Mexico. Rule is at her best in tracing Douglas’ frantic, depression-fueled changes in the years preceding his murder. This account delivers quite a punch in its final revelations.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMob boss : the life of Little Al D’Arco, the man who brought down the Mafia / Jerry Capeci and Tom Robbins.
“D’Arco was born and raised in a part of Brooklyn where becoming a gangster was almost expected. He was a good soldier who always tried to follow the “old school” edicts (e.g., no drug dealing and no threatening or hurting innocent family members). A bit of a straight arrow, unlike some of his fellow gangsters, D’Arco did not indulge in the vices of gambling, adultery, drug use, or excessive drinking. He was a good father and husband whose work ethic motivated him to ascend to acting boss of the Luchese family when the boss and underboss went into hiding. When D’Arco learned that he was next on the hit list, he turned FBI informant in 1991 and testified in over a dozen trials that resulted in more than 50 convictions. In 2002, he was sentenced to time served; he and his family currently live in an undisclosed location under witness protection. An incredibly detailed look at New York gangsters that rings true.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRunning with the blood god : down and dirty with freedom fighters, rebels and misfits / Matthew Thompson.
“Troubled by a growing sense that life’s vastness is shrinking as the physical and imaginative limits of our crowded, polluted, late-in-the-day civilization close in, Matthew Thompson roams the world seeking out those who would force the horizons back – the mavericks. In doing so, he hits the streets to explore the agony of totalitarianism in Iran, the delusional wretchedness and inbred colonial passivism of the Philippines and the historical rubble of Serbia, as well as what happens in Portland, Oregon: his own father’s home town and hub of modern American anarchism. RUNNING WITH THE BLOOD GOD is a hell-raising ride which leaves his MY COLOMBIAN DEATH shaking in its wake. In this incredible work of reportage, written with the pace of a thriller, Thompson walks the line where the liberty of individuality is often a matter of life or death.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCountdown : our last, best hope for a future on Earth? / Alan Weisman.
“Journalist Weisman (The World Without Us) here highlights the critical connection between human population growth and ecological degradation, a subject that’s not on the table at environmental summit meetings. The author takes up the issue popularized by Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb. Human proliferation (the global population presently numbers seven billion, plus 220,000 more births per day) is a major factor in resource depletion, pollution, and climate change. Even “green revolution” hybrid crops have limitations, and climate change is beginning to effect yields, so feeding a projected peak population of ten billion sustainably looks impossible.”
(adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe frackers : the outrageous inside story of the new energy revolution / Gregory Zuckerman.
The Frackers is a riveting narrative of how a group of risk-takers ushered in a new energy age. These individuals transformed the economic, environmental and geopolitical course of the US and the world, making a fortune in the process. US oil and gas output is up about twenty percent since 2007, making the country the world’s fastest growing energy producer. Daily production is expected to hit ten million barrels by the end of 2015, equal to what Saudi Arabia currently produces. But some of the very drilling methods that have been a boon to consumers and businesses, such as fracking, also have brought potential environmental danger. A debate is heating up about how serious the dangers are and whether the individuals at the vanguard of the movement will be remembered as much for their environmental impact as the remarkable blessings they’ve brought.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New true crime: the Knox case, Juliet Hulme & Pauline Parker, the Hilda Murrell murder and more

We’ve had lots of true crime books coming in this month, so here’s a round-up of our picks. You may have even heard the author of our first pick (“A thorn in their side”, about the circumstances surrounding the murder of Hilda Murrell) interviewed on National Radio. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverA thorn in their side : the Hilda Murrell murder / Robert Green with Kate Dewes.
“A THORN IN THEIR SIDE is Robert Green’s extraordinary pursuit of the truth about how and why his aunt Hilda Murrell, a noted English rose grower, met a violent and bizarre death. In 1984, at the age of 78, Hilda Murrell was found brutally murdered in the Shropshire countryside. She had just gained approval to testify on the unsolved problems of radioactive waste at the first British planning inquiry into a new nuclear power plant. The police theory that a lone, panicking burglar robbed and abducted Hilda in her own car for petty cash erupted into a sensational political conspiracy involving PM Margaret Thatcher’s plans for British nuclear energy and the controversial sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano in the 1982 Falklands War…” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverDeath in Perugia : the definitive account of the killing of Meredith Kercher / by John Follain.
“Shortly after 12.30pm on 2 November 2007, Italian police were called to the Perugia home of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher. They found her body on the floor under a beige quilt. Her throat had been cut.
Four days later, the prosecutor jailed Meredith’s flatmate American student Amanda Knox, and Raffaele Sollecito, her Italian boyfriend. He also jailed Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter. Four years later Knox and Sollecito were aquitted amid chaotic scenes in front of the world’s media.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe murder of Rachel / Wanda Moran.
“At 1.45am on New Year’s Day, Rachel Moran left her mother’s house to make the 20 minute walk back to her own flat. She never arrived. Rachel was just like many women of her age, loved by her family, adored by her boyfriend and with a bright future ahead of her. Her fatal mistake was to walk the mile or so alone to feed the kittens she and her boyfriend kept. She was taken from the street and brutally murdered by Michael Little. Her body wasn’t discovered for a month. In an attempt to make sense of what happened that night and in the months that followed, her mother kept a diary of what happened.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverSo brilliantly clever : Parker, Hulme & the murder that shocked the world / Peter Graham.
“On June 22, 1954, in the depth of a southern winter, teenage friends Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker went for a walk in a park with Pauline’s mother. Half an hour later the girls returned alone. Honorah Parker lay in a sea of blood on a lonely track. She had been brutally murdered…. In this mesmerising book, lawyer and true crime writer Peter Graham tells the whole story for the first time-…” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverHostage : a year at gunpoint with Somali gangsters / Paul and Rachel Chandler ; with Sarah Edworthy.
“On 23 October 2009, British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler were kidnapped from their sailing boat in the archipelago of the Seychelles — In this remarkable book, the Chandlers recount their terrifying ordeal, revealing the inspiring and poignant story behind the dramatic headlines. At the heart of their survival was their unshakeable belief in each other and their determination to survive, making Hostage an unlikely love story; for Paul and Rachel, death, at times, seemed preferable to being separated.”–Cover. (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverFlying blind : how the justice system perpetuates crime and the Corrections Department fails to correct / Roger Brooking.
“80% of crime in New Zealand occurs under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This book is about how the New Zealand justice system perpetuates criminal behaviour and the Corrections Department fails to rehabilitate – maintaining a vicious cycle of addiction and substance abuse that inevitably leads to re-offending and recidivism.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe real George Freeman : thief, race-fixer, standover man and underworld crim / Tony Reeves.
“Sin City, 1979. Crooked cops take the cream off the top of crime profits. Judges frequent illegal gambling dens. The winners of races are known before the horses have run. Heroin floods the streets, and the fight for the control of the trade sees men being gunned down left and right. This is the world of George Freeman – often portrayed as a charming celebrity gangster, he was in fact a calculated criminal motivated by greed and a lust for power and influence. Here, we hear the truth about Freeman’s links to the Mafia and drug trafficking, his secret addiction and the accusations of murder.” (Syndetics)

Stealing the moon and other true crime stories

Here are some of our newest books on true crime. Stolen moon rocks, Mafia wars, art forgery and a different perspective on New Zealand crime, it’s all here so have a browse!

Syndetics book coverGang land / Tony Thompson.
“The landscape of organised crime has changed beyond all recognition over the last five years. Youth violence, the drug trade and rising levels of gun crime are rarely out of the news. Beginning on the troubled streets of the inner cities, Gang land takes its readers on a journey up through the underworld hierarchy until it finally reaches the very highest levels, occupied by elusive and shadowy ‘Mr Big’ characters” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBadlands : NZ: a land fit for criminals / David Fraser, with forewords by Theodore Dalrymple & Garth McVicar.
“Have you been a victim of any kind of crime in your life? Maybe you know someone who has. This book tells you, in ordinary language, how successive governments and bureaucrats have kept you in the dark about New Zealand’s crime rate. The myth: Home detention will be available for people purely at the lower end of the scale of offending …no serious or violent offenders – Corrections Dept, 1999 The reality: Over half the 1517 criminals placed on home detention in 2007 had convictions for sex crimes, violence and drug offences – Badlands.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHarold Shipman : prescription for murder / Brian Whittle and Jean Ritchie.
“He was a pillar of the community, serving on local committees, donating prizes to the rugby club, organising charity collections. His patients thought the world of him: he was attractive, kind, never too busy to chat. Yet Dr Harold Frederick Shipman was also the most prolific serial killer the world has ever known, with between two hundred and three hundred victims…..” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSex on the moon : the amazing true story behind the most audacious heist in history / Ben Mezrich.
“….Thad Roberts, while at the University of Utah, became determined to be an astronaut and threw himself into science courses…. While cataloguing samples, he noticed the moon rocks NASA categorized as “trash”-samples returned after experiments. Then Roberts met and fell in love with a new recruit, Rebecca, and planned to give her the moon, or at least its profits, by stealing the “used” moon rocks…” – (adapted from Publishers Weekly)

Syndetics book coverProvenance : how a con man and a forger rewrote the history of modern art / Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo.
“Filled with extraordinary characters and told at a breakneck speed, Provenance is the astonishing true story of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate cons in the history of art forgery. Stretching from London to Paris to New York, investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo recount the tale of infamous con man and unforgettable villain John Drewe and his accomplice, the affable artist and vulnerable single dad John Myatt.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeath and the dolce vita : the dark side of Rome in the 1950s / Stephen Gundle.
“On 9 April 1953 an attractive twenty-one-year-old woman went missing from her family home in Rome. Thirty-six hours later her body was found washed up on a neglected beach at Tor Vaianica. Some said it was suicide; others, a tragic accident. Darker murmurs blamed her death on a drug-fuelled orgy that had gone horribly wrong. The crime gripped the nation. And some were determined to find out the truth of what had happened: the mystery took them from the capital’s seediest back streets right up to the highest office in the land. Stephen Gundle picks his way through the evidence to expose the foul underbelly of Rome in the 1950s – a place of bitter hearts and broken dreams.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe murder of the century : the Gilded Age crime that scandalized a city and sparked the tabloid wars / Paul Collins.
“On June 26, 1897, the first of several gory bundles was discovered: a man’s chest and arms floating in the East River. The legs and midsection were found separately and “assembled” at the morgue for identification. The two most popular newspapers-William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World-devoted entire issues to the corpse, sending reporters out to shadow police and offering dueling rewards for identifying the man. Hearst even formed the “Murder Squad,” reporters who were often one step ahead of the cops.” – (adapted from Publishers Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe honored dead : a story of friendship, murder, and the search for truth in the Arab world / Joseph Braude.
“Journalist Braude (The New Iraq), an American of Iraqi Jewish origin, spent four months in Morocco embedded with a police precinct in Casablanca whose detectives infiltrate drug cartels, break up al-Qaeda cells, and pursue a variety of more routine criminals. Befriending an unemployed Muslim Berber named Muhammad Bari, the author investigates the brutal murder of Bari’s best friend-a rural migrant killed in the warehouse where he spent his nights. Following the case with Bari-and suspecting the police of duplicity -Braude begins an investigation that takes him through the gamut of Moroccan society…” – (adapted from Publishers Weekly)

Syndetics book coverCosa Nostra : a history of the Sicilian Mafia / John Dickie.
“Journalist Dickie (Italian studies, University Coll., London) has written a fascinating history of the Mafia in Sicily from the 1860s through the early 21st century. Having emerged in and around Palermo during the troubled 1860s with the attempt to incorporate the island into the new Italian state, the Mafia gained increasing control over local government using threats and murder; by the 1870s, Sicilian politicians versed in the system had entered the central government. Mussolini moved to destroy the influences of the bosses during the 1920s and 1930s, but many escaped by emigrating to the United States, helping to build the American Mafia, which in turn helped reestablish the Mafia in Sicily at the end of World War II. Public outcry finally led to a crackdown during the 1990s… ” – (adapted from Library Journal)