“Mine is a gruesome job, but for a scientist with a love for the mechanics of the human body, a great one.” – Judy Melinek

“Mine is a gruesome job, but for a scientist with a love for the mechanics of the human body, a great one.”

― Judy Melinek, Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

Recently we had the great pleasure of hosting a crime writers’ panel event at our Newtown branch (if you missed it, have no fear – you can watch it below). Amongst our fabulous panel we had husband and wife crime-writing duo T. J. Mitchell and Judy Melinek. So it is fabulous to see in this month’s selection of newly-acquired crime fiction Aftershock, the latest book from the couple which features their forensic sleuth Dr. Jessie Teska.

We have a whole selection of other detective and mystery novels, including the wonderful Paul Cleave, Anna Bailey (a chilling new voice who is gathering rave reviews and definitely an author to check out), and Jane Adam’s historical whodunnit Old Sins, set in the 1920’s and featuring Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Henry Johnstone (if you are a fan of the golden age of crime writers this will definitely be of interest).

Below are these and a few other picks from our recently acquired titles.

Aftershock / Melinek, Judy
“There’s a body crushed under a load of pipes on a San Francisco construction site, and medical examiner Dr. Jessie Teska is on call. Her autopsy reveals that the death is a homicide staged as an accident. When an earthquake sends the city reeling, her case falls apart and an innocent man is being framed. Jessie is the only one who can prove it– if she can piece together the truth before it gets buried in the rubble.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The quiet people / Cleave, Paul
“Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living. So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Old sins / Adams, Jane
“1929. The discovery of the bodies of two retired policemen, Walter Cole and Hayden Paul, sounds warning bells to DCI Henry Johnstone. Both men were experiencing financial difficulties, and their deaths were staged to look like suicides. Hayden left a note containing two words: old sins. And when Henry attends his sister’s Halloween party, he is approached by a flamenco dancer who leaves a note with the name of another man. Could this be a grim warning?Henry is forced on a painful journey back to an old case he worked on with Cole and Paul.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tall bones / Bailey, Anna
“When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again. Abi’s disappearance cracks open the facade of the small town of Whistling Ridge. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked.  Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder ink / Hechtman, Betty
“Veronica Blackstone is a writer for hire. Be it love letters, biographies, resumes or wedding vows, Veronica has you covered. Her latest assignment is writing a celebration of life book for the funeral of one-time client Rachel Ross who tragically died one year after her wedding. While researching Rachel’s life, Veronica finds the information surrounding the circumstances of her death to be shrouded in mystery. No one quite knows what happened and her prominent family are more concerned with their image than the truth. Was her fall an accident, deliberate or something else? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Becoming Inspector Chen / Qiu, Xiaolong
“After a number of grueling cases Chief Inspector Chen is facing mounting pressure from his superiors, many of whom are concerned with where his loyalties lie. What’s more, he is excluded from an investigation into an incendiary poem posted on an online forum. Wracked with self-doubt and facing an anxious wait to discover the fate of his career, Chen is left to reflect on the events that have led to where he is now – from his amateur investigations as a child during the Cultural Revolution, to his very first case on the Shanghai Police Force. Has fighting for the Chinese people and the morals he believes in put him in conflict with the Party? Why is he being kept away from the new case? As well as his career, is his life now also at risk?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

On an outgoing tide / Ramsay, Caro
“The body is found in the early hours of the morning, drifting lifelessly on the outgoing tide. Twenty-three-year-old medical student Aasha Ariti had been enjoying a night out to celebrate the end of lockdown. Anthony Poole, the last person to have seen her alive, is the prime suspect. Before detectives Anderson and Costello can make further headway, they are pulled off the case to investigate the murder of a pensioner in his own home. As they dig deeper however, the two detectives uncover a number of secrets in the dead man’s past. Secrets that link to another murder more than forty years before. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood grove / Mosley, Walter
“After being approached by a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran who claims to have gotten into a fight protecting a white woman from a black man, Easy embarks on an investigation that takes him from mountaintops to the desert, through South Central and into sex clubs and the homes of the fabulously wealthy, facing hippies, the mob, and old friends perhaps more dangerous than anyone else.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Crime-writing duo Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell coming to Newtown Library

You may have heard American forensic pathologist and crime writer Judy Melinek and her husband and co-author TJ Mitchell interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand at the end of March. They’re the writing sensations behind the Jessie Teska forensic mystery books — and they’re coming to Newtown Library!

The couple will part of a panel discussion in an exciting line-up that includes three-time Ockhams New Zealand Book Awards listee Brannavan Gnanalingam, 2019 Ngaio Marsh Award and Ockhams winner Dame Fiona Kidman, and 2021 Ockhams long listee Sally J Morgan.

What? A Capital Crimespree – Newtown Mystery in the Library Panel Discussion, an event in association with the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

When? 6pm, Friday 30 April

Where? Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Newtown

Facebook Event Link

We’re so excited to host all these crime-writing luminaries, and in subsequent posts we’ll be profiling them all, but because they were recently interviewed on Radio New Zealand, we thought we’d kick off our panellist profiles with Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell — two authors with storied pasts who relocated to Wellington from America in July 2020.

Judy Melinek is a doctor and forensic pathologist who trained in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Her working life is the subject of the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, co-authored with her husband, writer T.J. Mitchell, and the two also collaborate on their series of novels featuring medical examiner Jessie Teska. Today Dr. Melinek performs autopsies as a forensic pathologist in Wellington, New Zealand.

T.J. Mitchell, as well as being a bestselling author, also has a past as a scriptwriter for Hollywood. To hear more about their remarkable lives and times and how actual forensic practice informs their fictional works, pop along to our Newtown Mystery in the Library event!

Listen to Kim Hill’s interview with this intriguing pair of authors (18 min.)

Please note “Mature/ adult issues of a challenging nature” may be discussed.

Browse their work below:

Working stiff : two years, 262 bodies, and the making of a medical examiner / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. While her husband and their toddler held down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation–performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines Flight 587. An unvarnished portrait of the daily life of medical examiners–complete with grisly anecdotes and chilling crime scenes” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.First cut : a novel / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“For San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr Jessie Teska, it was supposed to be a fresh start. A new job in a new city. A way to escape her own dark past. Instead she faces a chilling discovery when a suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister. Jessie’s superiors urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving nefarious opioid traffickers and flashy tech titans who got rich off Bitcoin. Autopsy means ‘see for yourself,’ and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she has seen it all – even if it means the next corpse on the table could be her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.Aftershock / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body, located on a construction site, rests under a collapsed beam. But when Dr Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the telltale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice and prevent them from potentially striking again. But when a major earthquake hits San Francisco right before Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“All things are transient here below and frail” – Our latest crime fiction showcase

“All things are transient here below and frail. Death only standeth fast for evermore”
Lorenzo de’ Medici  1449-1492,

One of the wonderful things about the genre of crime fiction is that it knows no geographical borders,  a wellwritten crime book from any part of the globe will stand a good chance of being quickly translated and released into a worldwide market. There is a huge global readership for good crime novels.  And the truly international nature and appeal of a good crime novel is amply demonstrated in this month’s crime fiction showcase; in this month’s selection we have novels from eight different countries. Ranging from Sweden and Germany to Scotland and Renaissance era Italy we even have a crime novel set in England where HRH Queen Elizabeth is the sleuth.

The family business / Allen, Hania
“In the north of Dundee, DI Dania Gorska is leading the search for a missing boy,  combing the dramatic landscape in hope of finding the child. What they discover in a derelict hut in the hills isn’t the boy, but is the remains of a body, chained to a wall. This body isn’t the missing child but is identified as another young boy. Dania begins to unearth the old case, determined to discover Cameron’s killer and looking for possible connections to the present-day missing child. But as she digs into the past, she realises that the Affleck family are hiding more than they let on and that there are some dark secrets that everyone wants to stay buried.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For the dead / Bengtsdotter, Lina
“Thirty years ago, teenager Paul Bergman was found drowned in Gullspang’s lake, and his best friend Francesca vanished from her home. Paul’s death was ruled a suicide, and Francesca was never found. DI Charlie Lager is still haunted by childhood memories of a strange house and the missing girl who once lived there.
Convinced that the original investigation was flawed, Charlie is determined to uncover what really happened all those decades ago. But someone out there is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the truth from coming out.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Windsor knot / Bennett, S. J.
“The morning after a dinner party at Windsor Castle, eighty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth is shocked to discover that one of her guests has been found murdered in his room, with a rope around his neck. When the police begin to suspect her loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they are looking in the wrong place. For the queen has been living an extraordinary double life ever since her teenage years. Away from the public eye, she has a brilliant knack for solving crimes. With her household’s happiness on the line, her secret must not get out. Can the queen and her trusted secretary Rozie catch the killer, without getting caught themselves?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

City of vengeance / Bishop, D. V.
“Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth. Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany – or suffer the consequences. During his investigations Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. Can Aldo stop the conspiracy before anyone else dies, or will his own secrets destroy him first?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook .

The dance of the serpents / De Muriel, Oscar
“December, 1889. There have been many bad days in Edinburgh police’s secret subdivision ‘The Commission for the Elucidation of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related to the Odd and Ghostly’. But today is surely the worst. Because the exiled English Inspector Ian Frey, and his Scottish boss ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray are summoned to a meeting in the middle of the night with the Prime Minister himself. And he tells them that Queen Victoria  wants them both dead. To be pardoned they must embark on a mission so dangerous that they might be saving Her Majesty the job of executing them. A conspiracy within the highest office in the land.” (Catalogue)

Jeremiah’s bell : a D.C.I. Daley thriller / Meyrick, Denzil
“When rich American hotelier Alice Wenger arrives in Kinloch, some eyebrows are raised and memories are rekindled. Meanwhile, the secretive Doig family live a solitary existence on a remote part of the Kintyre peninsula, without even the basic amenities of modern life. After the family’s patriarch plummets to his death, secrets of stolen gold, whisky smuggling, shipwrecks and brutal events going back decades begin to emerge. With emotions running high in Kinloch Police Office, the team must put aside their own problems and get to the bottom of a sickening crime. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Stasi winter / Young, David
“In 1978 East Germany, nothing is as it seems. The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written, and the “truth” is whatever the Stasi say it is. So when the murder of a woman is officially labeled an “accidental death,” Major Karin Muller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma. To solve the crime, she must defy the official version of events. But defying the Stasi means putting her own life–and the lives of her young family–in danger. As the worst winter in history holds Germany in its freeze, Muller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between the truth and a lie, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.” (Catalogue)

These women / Pochoda, Ivy
“There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a wilfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

Q and A with Professor Val McDermid

For your delight, edification, and enjoyment our very special online Q and A with the Queen of modern crime fiction Professor Val McDermid.

We are absolutely thrilled to be presenting this Online event with Professor Val McDermid.

Filmed at Val’s home by her partner Professor Jo Sharp and using questions specially gathered from the users of WCL and beyond. The interview is a fascinating insightful and entertaining look into one of the most popular and critically acclaimed writers on the planet.

About Professor Val McDermid

Val McDermid is one of the biggest names in contemporary crime fiction and ‘Tartan Noir’ — her novels have sold more than 16 million copies and have been translated into 40 languages worldwide. Her novels currently fall into four main series, featuring a host of memorable characters: As well as five standalone novels.

  • The Lindsay Gordon books
  • The Kate Brannigan books
  • The DCI Karen Pirie series
  • The Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series

Val has also written Non-fiction, short stories, and an award-winning children’s book.

Val’s most recent release is the sixth DCI Karen Pirie novel called Still life. 

Val McDermid has also won crime writing’s most prestigious award, the much-coveted Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year, for her novel The Mermaids Singing. Along with her plethora of awards, she also holds an Honorary Fellowship from St Hilda’s College in Oxford — where she was the first student from a state school in Scotland ever to attend.

We have an extensive range of Val McDermid books available to borrow click here to view our entire collection.

You can find out more about Val’s activities (and find loads more criminally good recipes besides!) by visiting her website — valmcdermid.com.

We wish to extend to Professor Val McDermid and Professor Jo Sharp our deepest and most sincere thanks for sharing their time with us, and for such a fabulous interview — which you can now view below.

Still life / McDermid, Val
On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets. But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice – a killer who is still out there. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Forensics : what bugs, burns, prints, DNA, and more tell us about crime / McDermid, Val
The dead talk–to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also  available as an eBook.

Overdrive cover Imagine a Country, Val McDermid & Jo Sharp (ebook) “The first step on the road to change is to imagine possibility. Imagine A Country offers visions of a new future from an astonishing array of Scottish voices, from comedians to economists, writers to musicians. Edited, curated and introduced by bestselling author Val McDermid and geographer Jo Sharp, it is a collection of ideas, dreams and ambitions, aiming to inspire change, hope and imagination. Featuring: Ali Smith, Phill Jupitus, A.l. Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Kerry Hudson, Greg Hemphill, Carol Ann Duffy, Chris Brookmyre, Alison Watt, Alasdair Gray, Leila Aboulela, Ian Rankin, Selina Hales, Sanjeev Kohli, Jackie Kay, Damian Barr, Elaine C. Smith, Abir Mukherjee, Anne Glover, Alan Bissett, Louise Welsh, Jo Clifford, Ricky Ross, Trishna Singh, Cameron Mcneish, Alexander Mccall Smith, Carla Jenkins, Don Paterson, and many more…” (Overdrive description)

My granny is a pirate / McDermid, Val
” The perfect story to keep you entertained whilst stuck at home and missing Granny Who knows, when you next see her, she may have turned into a pirate… My granny is a pirate
She’s sailed the seven seas.
She captured many pirate ships
But was always home for tea. When a family secret about Granny is revealed, we discover all about her fiercesome pirate reputation and her swashbuckling ways – from making other rogueish pirates walk the plank to singing sea shanties to her dog, Jolly Roger. Look again at your granny…could she be a pirate too? A must-have book for all pirate fans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New crime, thriller and mystery novels

Writers always think their greatest work is just ahead of them.” — Ian Rankin

The crime genre has for a long time been one of those genres that really embraces an international perspective. A good crime novel from any part of the World will often find a ready willing and eager readership. And this month’s highlighted crime, thriller and mystery novels really demonstrate this, the list contains authors from Sweden, Italy, Scotland, Australia, America and Ireland. The tales included range from a New Inspector Rebus story where family and career collide set in Scotland, to an inspector Montalbano outing where the murder clues are in an Italian theatrical production from a Scandinavian lottery winner with a secret double life, to a crime caper set in a magical World. Enjoy.

Snow / Banville, John
“Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family. The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford–flinty, visibly Protestant and determined to identify the murderer–faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in the tight-knit community he begins to investigate. As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Sicilian method / Camilleri, Andrea
” Montalbano finds his answers to a murder in a theatrical play.Mimi Augello is visiting his lover when the woman’s husband unexpectedly returns to the apartment. Hurriedly, he climbs out the window and into the downstairs apartment, but from one danger to another. In the dark he sees a body lying on the bed. Shortly afterwards another body is found and the victim is Carmelo Catalanotti, a director of bourgeois dramas with a harsh reputation for the acting method he developed for his actors: digging into their complexes to unleash their talent, a traumatic experience for all. Are the two deaths connected? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The secret life of Mr Roos / Nesser, Håkan
“A man starts a double life after a secret lottery win. But he can’t know just how sour his new life will turn .Every day he travels down to this man-made oasis, returning each evening to his unsuspecting wife. Life couldn’t be better, until a young woman arrives in paradise .Anna Gambowska is a twenty-one-year-old recovering drug addict. On the run from the rehab centre she hated and an abusive relationship she can’t go back to, all Anna’s prayers are answered when she comes across a seemingly vacant hut in the Swedish woodland. Inspector Barbarotti doesn’t take much interest when a woman reports her husband as missing. That is, until a dead body is found near the missing man’s newly-bought hut, and Mr Roos becomes the number one murder suspect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Trust / Hammer, Chris
“Martin Scarsden’s new life seems perfect, right up until the moment it’s shattered by a voicemail: a single scream, abruptly cut off, from his partner Mandaly Blonde. Racing home, he finds an unconcious man sprawled on the floor and Mandy gone. Someone has abducted her. But who, and why? So starts a twisting tale of intrigue and danger, as Martin probes the past of the woman he loves, a woman who has buried her former life so deep she has never mentioned it. And for the first time, Mandy finds denial impossible, now the body of a mystery man has been discovered, a man whose name she doesn’t know, a man she was engaged to marry when he died. It’s time to face her demons once and for all; it’s time she learned how to trust” (Catalogue)

The searcher / French, Tana
” Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realize that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets. THE SEARCHER is a gripping standalone novel from a singular writer who has been called “incandescent” by Stephen King, “absolutely mesmerizing” by Gillian Flynn, and “unputdownable” (People).” (Catalogue)

Dead man in a ditch / Arnold, Luke
” The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need? Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure. Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot.  Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley. What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back. Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world. But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The postscript murders / Griffiths, Elly
The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death. But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all. ” (Catalogue)

A song for the dark times / Rankin, Ian
He’s gone…’ When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it’s not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days. Rebus fears the worst – and knows from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect. He wasn’t the best father – the job always came first – but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective? As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast – and a small town with big secrets – he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn’t want to find.. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

2020 Ngaio Marsh winners announced

Ngaio Marsh Awards on Facebook

Congratulations to the finalists and winners of the 2020 The Ngaio Marsh Awards!

The Ngaio Marsh Awards are presented annually and promote and celebrate excellence in crime, mystery and thriller writing by New Zealand authors.


Best Novel

This year’s winner for best novel was:

Auē, by Becky Manawatu
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.” (Catalogue)

Shortlisted were:

Best First Novel

And the Best First Novel was won by:

The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald.
“Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum’s on a cruise. Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club. But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous…” (Publisher description)

Shortlisted were:

We wish to extend a big congratulations to all of this year’s finalists and winners. Well done all!

We recently were lucky enough to get some of the shortlisted authors to give us some exclusive interviews and readings from the books – have a watch below:

The Nancys: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist R.W.R. McDonald

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

R.W.R. McDonald’s debut novel The Nancys is one of most unique books among the list. Set in South Otago, the book is about friends, family, a murder  and young girl’s obsession with the Nancy Drew series of books. It’s simultaneously funny, dark, touching and ultimately joyously uplifting.

The charismatic author of The Nancys R.W.R. McDonald took some time out of his busy schedule to do a really special online piece for us and talk to us about The Nancys,  his literary influences, and also give us a very special fireside reading–not to mention introducing us to Harry his cat!

We want to extend our biggest thank you to R.W.R. McDonald for his time and such a great interview. And we wish him and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

Below are some of the books that influenced R.W.R. McDonald and were mentioned in his interview. You can also borrow a copy of The Nancys here or buy yourself a copy here!

The hidden staircase / Keene, Carolyn
“After receiving a call from her friend Helen Corning, Nancy agrees to help solve a baffling mystery. Helen’s Aunt Rosemary has been living with her mother at the old family mansion, and they have noticed many strange things. They have heard music, thumps and seen eerie shadows on the walls. Could the house be haunted? Will Nancy be able to find  how these mysteries are related?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Kiss kiss / Dahl, Roald
“Contains stories including The Landlady, William and Mary, The Way up to Heaven, Parson’s Pleasures, Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat, Royal Jelly, Gregory Progy, Genesis and Catastrophe, Edwards the Conqueror, Pig and The Champion of the World.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Charlie and the chocolate factory / Dahl, Roald
“Mr Willy Wonka is the most extraordinary chocolate maker in the world. And do you know who Charlie is? Charlie Bucket is the hero. The other children in this book are nasty little beasts, called- Augustus Gloop- a great big greedy nincompoop; Veruca Salt- a spoiled brat; Violet Beauregarde – a repulsive little gum-chewer; Mike Teavee – a boy who only watches television. Clutching their Golden Tickets, they arrive at Wonka’s chocolate factory…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook. 

To the lighthouse / Woolf, Virginia
“Set on the beautiful Isle of Skye. To the Lighthouse features the serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests who are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Virginia Woolf constructs a moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflicts within a marriage…. the sea encircles the story in a brilliant ebb and flow” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook. 

The whale rider / Ihimaera, Witi
“This timeless story tells how the courage of one Maori girl in standing against the tide of tradition enables her tribe to become reconnected with their ancestral life force. As her beloved grandfather, chief of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, struggles to lead in difficult times and to find a male successor, young Kahu is developing a mysterious relationship with whales, particularly the ancient bull whale whose legendary rider was their ancestor.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A Saint from Texas [paperback] / White, Edmund
“Yvette and Yvonne Crawford are twin sisters, born on a humble patch of East Texas prairie but bound for far grander fates. Just as an untold fortune of oil lies beneath their daddy’s land, both girls harbour their own secrets and dreams: ones that will carry them far from Texas and from each other. As the decades unfold, Yvonne will ascend the highest ranks of Parisian society as Yvette gives herself to a lifetime of worship. And yet, even as they remake themselves, the twins find that the bonds of family and the past are unbreakable.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Margaret Mahy treasury : eleven favourite stories from the marvellous Margaret Mahy. / Mahy, Margaret
“The Margaret Mahy Treasury contains eleven favourite Mahy stories. In this volume you will find such timeless classics as A Lion in the Meadow, The Witch in the Cherry Tree, The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate and many more. These beautifully illustrated stories are childhood essentials. This book contains a CD of Margaret Mahy reading six of her classic stories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nancys / McDonald, R. W. R.
“”Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum’s on a cruise. Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books; she wants to be Nancy and solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards here. For R.W.R. McDonald’s official site.

Place and time are no strangers to crime

The most recent mystery releases delve into the secretive worlds of family and friends, those we think we know best, to strangers under investigation.  From the Shetland Islands to Alaska these new mystery titles will keep you guessing until the very end. Follow along with professional trackers and amateur sleuths as the trail of clues can lead you to the most surprising people and places.

Power brokering is the pivot for historical writers Peter Beresford Ellis, writing as Peter Tremayne and Jacqueline Winspear as their respective female investigators put personal safety on the line to uncover the truth. But the times dictate the ways and means these investigators can use their knowledge and talents.

Something for all to enjoy from the court rooms of Manhattan to the secretive rain forests near Cairns.

Syndetics book coverBlood oath / Linda Fairstein.
“With more women feeling empowered to name their abusers, Alex is eager to return to the courtroom to do what she does best. But even she can’t anticipate the complexity of her first case when she meets Lucy, a young woman who testified years earlier at a landmark federal trial and now reveals that she was sexually assaulted by a prominent official during that time. As the seemingly disparate cases of her client, adversary, and friend start to intertwine, Alex, finds herself in uncharted territory within Manhattan’s Rockefeller University. ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe good detective / John McMahon.
“Detective P.T. Marsh was a rising star on the police force until his wife and young son were killed in an accident. Since then he’s lost the ability to see the line between smart moves and disastrous decisions. Such as when he decides to ‘help out’ an exotic dancer by confronting her abusive boyfriend. When the next morning he gets called to the scene of his newest murder case, he is stunned to arrive at the house of a dead man, the very man he beat up the night before. He could swear the guy was alive when he left, but can he be sure? ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOpen carry / Marc Cameron.(print) (eBook)
U.S. Marshal Arliss Cutter is a born tracker. Raised in the swamplands of Florida, he honed his skills in the military, fought in the Middle East, and worked three field positions for Marshal Services. When it comes to tracking someone down, or taking someone out, Cutter’s the best. But his newest assignment is taking him out of his comfort zone to southeast Alaska. Cold, dark, uninhabited forests that are often shrouded in fog. And it’s the kind of case that makes his blood run cold, the shocking murder of a Tlingit Indian girl. Three people have disappeared on Prince of Wales Island. Two are crew members of the reality TV show, Fishwives. Cutter’s job is to find the bodies, examine the crew’s footage for clues, and track down the men who killed them. Easier said than done. Especially when the whole town is hiding secrets, every trail is a dead end-and the hunter becomes the hunted. (Overdrive description)

Syndetics book coverIn strangers’ houses / Elizabeth Mundy.
“Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, knows all too well about cleaning up other people’s messes. When her friend Timea disappears, she suspects one of her clients is to blame. However, the police don’t share her suspicions and it is left to Lena to turn sleuth and find her friend. Searching through their houses as she scrubs their floors, Lena desperately tries to find out what has happened. But Lena soon discovers it’s not just her clients who have secrets. And as she begins to unravel Timea’s past she starts to wonder if she really knew her friend at all.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHandful of Ash (The Shetland Sailing Mysteries)
“Liveaboard skipper and amateur sleuth Cass Lynch is busy at marine college in Scalloway, until one night she finds an acquaintance dead in a doorway with her hand smeared with peat ash. Rumours spread of a strange ritual linked to the witches once burned in Shetland’s ancient capital, and of a horned figure abroad in the night. At first Cass believes these to be mere superstition, until there’s a second murder, and she begins to wonder if the devil really does walk in Scalloway …” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBloodmoon / Peter Tremayne.
“Ireland. AD 671. Sister Fidelma has a mission, and she is sworn by oath to reveal her purpose to no other. The secret investigation leads Fidelma and her companions to the abbey of Finnbarr to question the abbot. But before they have a chance to speak to him, the abbot is found murdered – and the young girl suspected of the crime has fled the scene. Unable to tell the truth of her quest to anyone, including her husband Eadulf, Fidelma’s time is running out – and now she has no choice but to face the challenge, and her enemies, alone.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMissing pieces / Caroline de Costa.
“In 1992, toddler Yasmin Munoz went missing. No trace of her has ever been found. Yet in 2012 Andrew Todd, a wealthy businessman and former mayor of Cairns, dies, and leaves in his will directions for a search for the missing child, who if she is still alive must now be a young woman. Cairns detective Cass Diamond is soon asked to help… She discovers that in 1990, popular university student Chloe Campion had also gone missing, from a party in Brisbane celebrating her engagement to the son of Andrew Todd. Police inquiries at the time of the child’s disappearance found no link with the Campion case. But Cass is curious… On her own, Cass delves deeper, and is led to a farm on the Atherton Tableland outside Cairns, where her curiosity gets her kidnapped with two other women, and into a hostage drama with an unpredictable assailant…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe American agent : a Maisie Dobbs novel / Jacqueline Winspear.(print) (eBook)
“When Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. He is accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice–Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie escape Hitler’s Munich in 1938. MacFarlane asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon’s death.” (Syndetics summary)