Crook Manifesto: Our latest selection of crime & mystery titles

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“Crooked world, straight world, same rules – everybody had a hand out for the envelope.”
― Colson Whitehead, Harlem Shuffle

The recently acquired crime and mystery title that caught our eye this month was the much-anticipated Crook Manifesto by Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead. A dazzling and much-anticipated return to the world of Harlem Shuffle. Like its predecessor the book is clearly a crime novel and a fabulous one at that, but it is also a literary lens that focusses on a particular place and its culture at a particular point in time.

The place is the New York neighbourhood of Harlem, the time is the early seventies. A place and time known historically for its social difficulties.  Harlem in the early 70’s was a troubled neighbourhood; poverty-stricken with low employment and many other major social issues.  The situation was so bad that many former Harlem residents who could afford to leave did so . This exodus largely left behind only the poorest, most deprived segments of the community. However, as Colson vividly illustrates, Harlem at this time also had a thriving musical scene and was continuing to create its own unique  culture and, in many ways, was a place of vibrant energy. Colson Whitehead’s period detail and atmosphere building is meticulous and immersive.

Other titles that caught our eye were Christina Koning’s Murder in Regent’s Park, and Scottish crime writer Alex Gray’s Questions For a Dead Man .

There is also a bit of a Japanese flavour to this month’s selections with The Mill House Murders by Yukito  Ayatsuji, the pitch dark The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura and the classic Tokyo Express  by Seichō  Matsumoto.

Crook manifesto : a novel / Whitehead, Colson
“It s 1971. Trash piles up on the streets, crime is at an all-time high, the city is careening towards bankruptcy, and a shooting war has broken out between the NYPD and the Black Liberation Army. Amidst this collective nervous breakdown furniture store owner and ex-fence Ray Carney tries to keep his head down and his business thriving. His days moving stolen goods around the city are over. It s strictly the straight-and-narrow for him until he needs Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter May and he decides to hit up his old police contact Munson, fixer extraordinaire. But Munson has his own favors to ask of Carney and staying out of the game gets a lot more complicated and deadly.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

The Mill House murders / Ayatsuji, Yukito
“As they do every year, a small group of acquaintances pay a visit to the remote, castle-like Water Mill House, home to the reclusive Fujinuma Kiichi, son of a famous artist, who has lived his life behind a rubber mask ever since a disfiguring car accident. This year, however, the visit is disrupted by an impossible disappearance, the theft of a painting, and a series of baffling murders. The brilliant Kiyoshi Shimada arrives to investigate. But will he get to the truth, and will you too be able to solve the mystery of the Mill House Murders?” (Adapted from Catalogue)


My murder / Williams, Katie
” What if the murder you had to solve was your own? Lou is a happily married mother of an adorable toddler. She’s also the clone of the original Louise who, along with four other victims of a local serial killer, has been brought back to life by a government project to return the women to their grieving families. But as the new Lou re-adapts to her old life, questions remain about what exactly preceded her death, and how much to trust those around her. Understanding the truth may determine what comes next for Lou.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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If we were all as wise as we should be: New crime and mystery

If we were all as wise as we should be, we would have no stories to tell. ― Freeman Wills Croft

In this month’s newly acquired crime and mysteries titles we have the very welcome reissue of The Fatal venture by Freeman Wills Crofts, featuring Inspector French, which was originally published in 1939.

The Fatal venture is a book that dates from the golden age of detective fiction; crime books written mainly in the 1920s and 1930s (though books in the Golden age style are still written to this very day). The Inspector Joseph French mysteries largely employed the classic puzzle mystery template. Inspector French was unusual for a detective of the golden age, or sleuths in general, in that he has no major personal problems. He is happily married and is generally a very pleasant character. The novels were hugely popular in their time, and Inspector French featured in numerous short stories and twenty-nine novels.

One of the interesting things about golden age crime novels, including the Inspector Joseph French mysteries, was that they were written using the Ten crime Commandments. Below are those rules:

“The criminal must be mentioned in the early part of the story but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to know.

All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.

Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.

No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.

No Chinaman must figure in the story. (This rule is a very sad indictment of the racism present in mainstream Western culture at this time.)

No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.

The detective himself must not commit the crime.

The detective is bound to declare any clues which he may discover.

The “sidekick” of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal from the reader any thoughts which pass through his mind: his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.

Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.”

Below are our other selected crime and mystery titles from this months newly acquired titles.

Fatal venture / Crofts, Freeman Wills
“A classic crime novel by Freeman Wills Crofts, ‘The King of Detective Story Writers’, featuring Inspector French, coming soon to television.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Green for danger / Brand, Christianna
“It is 1942, and at the new Kent military hospital Heron’s Park, postman Joseph Higgins delivers seven letters of acceptance for infirmary roles. He has no idea that one of the recipients will later cause his demise. When Higgins returns to Heron’s Park with injuries from a bombing raid in 1943, his inexplicable death in the operating theatre casts four nurses and three doctors under suspicion, and a second, sudden death brings Inspector Cockrill to the hospital. As an air raid detains the inspector for the night, the stage is set for a tense and claustrophobic investigation with a close-knit cast of suspects in this golden age masterclass of red herrings and tricky twists.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The golden spoon : a novel / Maxwell, Jessa
“When production for the tenth season of the hit cooking competition Bake Week begins at the gothic estate of the show’s host and founder, celebrity chef Betsy Martin, everything seems normal. The six contestants are eager to prove their culinary talents over the course of five days, while Betsy struggles for control of the show with her new co-host, the brash and unpredictable Archie Morris. But as the baking competition gets under way, things begin to go awry. At first it’s merely sabotage–sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned to high–but then someone shows up dead and suddenly everyone’s a suspect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How to kill men and get away with it / Brent, Katy
“A deliciously dark, hilariously twisted story about friendship, love, and murder. Meet Kitty Collins. Friend. Lover. Killer. When a guy from a nightclub follows her home, and won’t leave her alone– she kills him. Not intentionally, of course. But she isn’t sorry, and she appears to have got away with murder. That’s where here addiction started. She’s developed a taste for revenge.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Vera Wong’s unsolicited advice for murderers / Sutanto, Jesse Q
“Vera Wong is a lonely little old lady–ah, lady of a certain age–who lives above her forgotten tea shop in the middle of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite living alone, Vera is not needy, oh no. She likes nothing more than sipping on a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy detective work on the Internet about what her college-aged son is up to. Then one morning, Vera trudges downstairs to find a curious thing–a dead man in the middle of her tea shop. In his outstretched hand, a flash drive. Vera knows the killer will be back for the flash drive; all she has to do is watch the increasing number of customers at her shop and figure out which one among them is the killer…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
The girl by the bridge / Arnaldur Indriðason
“An elderly couple are worried about their granddaughter. They know she’s been smuggling drugs, and now she’s gone missing. Looking for help, they turn to Konrad, a former policeman whose reputation precedes him. Always absent-minded, he constantly ruminates on the fate of his father, who was stabbed to death decades ago. But digging into the past reveals much more than anyone set out to discover, and a little girl who drowned in the Reykjavik city pond unexpectedly captures everyone’s attention.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Portrait of a murder / Jecks, Michael
“Nick Morris is your classic struggling artist. He paints pet portraits to pay the bills but is always just one big commission away from a more comfortable life. Which is why he agrees to paint the reluctant, hot-tempered hotelier, Jason Robart. But Nick gets more than he bargained for when he finds Jason dead from a shotgun blast to the head in an apparent suicide. It turns out Jason owed money to everyone — including some unsavoury Russians. When his girlfriend Elizabeth goes missing, Nick is concerned, but so is Jason’s unpleasant business partner. Nick is knee deep in trouble and to escape he must find Elizabeth, uncover the truth of Jason’s death, and stay alive! If only he had stuck to painting cats…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A death in Denmark / Malladi, Amulya
“Everyone in Denmark knew that Yousef Ahmed, a refugee from Iraq, brutally murdered the right-wing politician Sanne Melgaard. So, when part-time blues musician, frustrated home renovator, and full-time private detective Gabriel Præst agrees to investigate the matter because his ex–the one who got away–asked him to, he knew it was a no-win case. But as Gabriel starts to ask questions, his face meets with the fists of Russian gangsters; the Danish prime minister asks him for a favor; and he starts to realize that something may be rotten in the state of Denmark.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts”: new crime & thriller titles

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“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.”

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

Philip Marlowe is one of the most iconic characters of the hard-boiled fiction genre, created by crime writing maestro Raymond Chandler. In this month’s selection of recently acquired crime and thriller titles, Philip Marlowe makes a return thanks to the ever versatile and fabulously gifted writer John Banville.

Philip Marlowe first hit print in 1939 in The Big Sleep. The eponymous detective came to encapsulate all of the hard-boiled crime genres major tropes. A hard-drinking, wise-cracking private eye who frequently drank unfiltered coffee and, in his quieter moments, enjoyed poetry and chess. There have been numerous film adaptations featuring the Philip Marlowe character, including the 1946 film noir classic The Big Sleep by Howard Hawks, in which Humphrey DeForest Bogart plays Marlowe; a film that is now regarded as one of the Golden Age’s film noir classics (click here to borrow that film). Raymond Chandler said his creation was born from the crime pulp  magazines he so often featured in.

Marlowe : a novel / Banville, John
“‘It was one of those Tuesday afternoons in summer when you wonder if the earth has stopped revolving.’ So begins a new novel featuring Philip Marlowe–yes, that Philip Marlowe. Channeling Raymond Chandler, John Banville has brought Marlowe back to life for a new adventure on the mean streets of Bay City, California. It is the early 1950s, Marlowe is as restless and lonely as ever, and business is a little slow. Then a new client is shown in: blond, beautiful, and expensively dressed, she wants Marlowe to find her former lover. Almost immediately, Marlowe discovers that the man’s disappearance is merely the first in a series of bewildering events, and soon he is tangling with one of Bay City’s richest–and most ruthless–families.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The motion picture teller / Cotterill, Colin
“Thailand, 1996: Supot, a postman with the Royal Thai Postal Service, hates his job. The only bright light in his life is watching classic movies with his best friend, Ali, the owner of a video store. These cinephiles adore the charisma of the old Western stars, particularly the actresses, and bemoan the state of modern Thai cinema-until a mysterious cassette, entitled Bangkok 2010, arrives at Ali’s store. Bangkok 2010 is a dystopian film set in a Thailand run by chauvinistic Security Council officers-and Supot and Ali, immediately obsessed, agree it’s the most brilliant Thai movie they’ve ever seen… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The burning pages : a Scottish bookshop mystery / Shelton, Paige
“One winter’s night, bookseller Delaney Nichols and her coworker Hamlet are invited to a Burns Night dinner. She’s perplexed by the invitation, but intrigued. The dinner takes place at Burns House itself, a tiny cottage not far from the Cracked Spine bookshop but well hidden. There, it becomes clear that Delaney and Hamlet were summoned in an attempt to make amends between Edwin, Delaney’s boss, and one of the other invitees, who suspected Edwin for burning down his own bookshop twenty years ago after a professional disagreement. But after the dinner, there’s another fire.  When Hamlet is accused of the crime, Delaney rushes to prove his innocence, only to discover that he might actually have a plausible motive.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

A death in Tokyo : a mystery / Higashino, Keigo
” In the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo an unusual statue of a Japanese mythic beast – a kirin – stands guard over the district from the classic Nihonbashi bridge. In the evening, a man who appears to be very drunk staggers onto the bridge and collapses right under the statue of the winged beast. The patrolman who sees this scene unfold, goes to rouse the man, only to discover that the man was not passed out, he was dead; that he was not drunk, he was stabbed in the chest. However, where he died was not where the crime was committed – the key to solving the crime is to find out where he was attacked and why he made such a super human effort to carry himself to the Nihonbashi Bridge….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Pudding Lane plot / Gregory, Susanna
“As the people and businesses of London are quickly recovering from the ravages of the plague, in Westminster, plans are afoot for a grandiose ball in honour of a long-dead but English-born Pope. Meanwhile, the markets and coffee houses in the city are awash with rumours of war and portents of a coming disaster. Mysterious killings at both ends of the capital have been caused by an unusually long, slender blade, and Thomas Chaloner is ordered to investigate. This leads him into a tapestry of conspiracy, outlandish claims of the Second Coming, the reappearance of a number of regicides and ever more brazen killings. As the date of the great ball looms closer, Chaloner fears that there is a dangerously credible conspiracy against the throne, and he has very little time to prevent history from repeating itself.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

The mysterious case of the Alperton Angels / Hallett, Janice
“Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police? Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult-like group who were convinced one of their member’s babies was the anti-Christ, and they had a divine mission to kill it – until the baby’s mother, Holly, came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than go to prison, and Holly – and the baby – disappeared into the care system. Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels.  This story is far from over – and it won’t have a happy ending.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The white lady : a novel / Winspear, Jacqueline
” Elinor White–veteran of two wars, trained killer, protective of her anonymity–is drawn back into the world of menace she has been desperate to leave behind. A reluctant ex-spy with demons of her own, Elinor finds herself facing down one of the most dangerous organized crime gangs in London, ultimately exposing corruption from Scotland Yard to the highest levels of government.Yet in her quest to uncover the truth behind the family’s pursuit of Jim, Elinor unwittingly sets out on a treacherous path–yet it is one that leads to her freedom.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The London Séance Society / Penner, Sarah
“1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike. Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Jesters do oft prove prophets: Recently acquired crime and mystery

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Jesters do oft prove prophets.― William Shakespeare, King Lear

Detectives and sleuths have always come in all shapes and sizes, and from every conceivable background imaginable. This month we have the novel Courting Dragons by Jeri Westerson, which features an investigator who comes in the guise of a court jester during the reign of Henry the Eighth.

Jesters were most popular during medieval and renaissance times when they were employed to entertain nobles and royalty, and also commoners at town markets and fairs. They would perform a mixture of magic tricks, storytelling, juggling, acrobatics, and jokes often employing puns and  stereotypes. There are examples of entertainers who filled a similar role to jesters in Ancient Rome, called Balatrones, as well as in Aztec and the Chinese culture.

Medieval jesters wore bright and colourful clothes and eccentric hats. They also carried special symbols of office: A crown, usually a cap with bells, and a sceptre called a Marotte. These echoed those symbols of power held by the monarch and were used to indicate that they were covered by the jesters privilege, which is the freedom to mock and talk freely without being punished.

In other recently acquired crime and mystery titles, we have a new New Zealand investigator called Hana Westerman. Hana is a detective, a single mother, and the star of Better the Blood. The action is set in Auckland and her investigations eventually lead her back to the brutal bloody colonisation of New Zealand. The novel, written by fabulous director and screenwriter Michael Bennett, is already making waves for its style, deep content and thrilling quality. Look out for it in awards lists later in the year!

Courting dragons / Westerson, Jeri
“1529, London. Jester Will Somers enjoys an enviable position at the court of Henry VIII. As the king’s entertainer, chief gossip-monger, spy and loyal adviser, he knows all of the king’s secrets – and almost everyone else’s within the walls of Greenwich Palace. But when Will discovers the body of Spanish count Don Gonzalo while walking his trusted sidekick Nosewise in the courtyard gardens, and a blackmail note arrives soon after demanding information about the king, is one of his own closely guarded secrets about to be exposed? Trouble is afoot at the palace. Are the king’s enemies plotting a move against him? Will must draw on all his wit and ingenuity to get to the bottom of the treacherous and deadly goings-on at the court before further tragedy strikes.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Better the blood / Bennett, Michael
“Hana Westerman is a tenacious Māori detective juggling single motherhood and the pressures of her career in Auckland’s Central Investigation Branch. When she’s led to a crime scene by a mysterious video, she discovers a man hanging in a secret room. Hana and her team work to track down the killer, searching for New Zealand’s first serial killer.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.


Jane and the year without a summer / Barron, Stephanie
“May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript–about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain–cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire.  Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however.Other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own–some of them deadly.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Italian rules, or, The three endings of Toni Fausto / Benjamin, Tom
“When a canister containing an old movie goes missing from Bologna’s Cineteca – one of Europe’s leading centres of film restoration – Daniel Leicester is called in to investigate. He finds out that the film in question had been considered lost until recently. As he looks deeper into the mystery, he begins to suspect the outtakes from the missing film might expose the culprit of an unsolved murder from the past. As part of his investigation, he joins an exclusive Buraco club where they play the traditional card game to ‘Italian rules’ and he suspects the murderer may be among the membership.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Golden age locked room mysteries
“Fourteen impossible crimes from the American masters of the form. For devotees of the Golden Age mystery, the impossible crime story represents the period’s purest form: it presents the reader with a baffling scenario (a corpse discovered in a windowless room locked from the inside, perhaps), lays out a set of increasingly confounding clues, and swiftly delivers an ingenious and satisfying solution. During the years between the two world wars, the best writers in the genre strove to outdo one another with unfathomable crime scenes and brilliant explanations, and the puzzling and clever tales they produced in those brief decades remain unmatched to this day.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A dangerous business / Smiley, Jane
” Ever since her husband was killed in a bar fight, Eliza Ripple has been working in a brothel. It seems like a better life, at least at first. The madam, Mrs. Parks, is kind, the men are (relatively) well behaved, and Eliza has attained what few women have: financial security. But when the dead bodies of young women start appearing outside of town, a darkness descends that she can’t resist confronting. Side by side with her friend Jean, and inspired by her reading, especially by Edgar Allan Poe’s detective, Dupin, Eliza pieces together an array of clues to try to catch the killer, all the while juggling clients who begin to seem more and more suspicious…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Winter swallows : ring down the curtain for Commissario Ricciardi / De Giovanni, Maurizio
“Christmas has just passed and the city is preparing to celebrate New Year when, on the stage of a variety show, famous actor Michelangelo Gelmi fires a gun at his wife, Fedora Marra. The shooting itself would be nothing strange: it is repeated every evening as part of their performance. But this time, someone replaced one of the blanks with a real bullet. Gelmi swears his innocence, but few believe him. Approaching old age and with a career in decline, the actor has become increasingly dependent on his wife, much younger than him and at the height of her fame…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Of manners and murder / Hastings, Anastasia
” 1885: London, England. When Violet’s Aunt Adelia decides to abscond with her newest paramour, she leaves behind her role as the most popular Agony Aunt in London, “Miss Hermione,” in Violet’s hands. And of course, the first letter Violet receives is full, not of prissy pondering, but of portent, Ivy Armstrong is in need of help and fears for her life. But when Violet visits the village where the letters were posted, she find that Ivy is already dead. She’ll quickly discover that when you represent the best-loved Agony Aunt in Britain, both marauding husbands and murder are par for the course.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way”: new mysteries

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“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

It is December and time for our last selection of recently acquired crime and fiction titles for 2022. And as it’s time for Christmas sales, some of the biggest names in the crime writing community have titles out, including T.V personality turned mega huge bestselling crime writing sensation Richard Osman; not to mention fabulous new titles by both Ian Rankin and Elly Griffiths, all of whom have featured heavily in many of the best of the year lists already.

And a very special mention goes Dark Deeds Down Under, a compendium of new crime stories  featuring some of Australia’s and New Zealand’s finest modern crime and mystery writers and compiled by no other than Ngaio Marsh Awards supremo Craig Sisterson. 

If you’re looking for something very different, one title that caught our attention was Light on Bone by  Kathryn Lasky; the latest celebrity detective novel to join an ever-growing genre. This time the internationally acclaimed American painter Georgia O’Keefe does the sleuthing; the tale is set in the semi desert landscape of New Mexico – the landscape that inspired so many of her wonderful and  famous paintings.

Light on bone / Lasky, Kathryn
“Kathryn Lasky has written a new adult amateur sleuth mystery set in New Mexico in the 1930s. The sleuth is Georgia O’Keefe. It begins when  she discovers the slain body of a priest in the desert. The plot includes several other murders,  an international espionage plot involving Charles Lindbergh, and lots of intricate twists and turns leading to a thoroughly unforeseen denouement. The strength of this story is how Lasky’s elegant writing captures the emotional depth of this artist’s turmoil and so stunningly reveals O’Keeffe’s perception of the landscape that moves her to paint. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bullet that missed / Osman, Richard
“It is an ordinary Thursday, and things should finally be returning to normal. Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club are concerned. A decade-old cold case–their favorite kind–leads them to a local news legend and a murder with no body and no answers. Then a new foe pays Elizabeth a visit. Her mission? Kill or be killed. Suddenly the cold case has become red hot. While Elizabeth wrestles with her conscience (and a gun), Joyce, Ron, and Ibrahim chase down the clues with help from old friends and new. But can the gang solve the mystery and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A heart full of headstones / Rankin, Ian
“John Rebus stands accused: on trial for a crime that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life. Although it’s not the first time the legendary detective has taken the law into his own hands, it might be the last. What drove a good man to cross the line? Or have times changed, and the rules with them? Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke faces Edinburgh’s most explosive case in years, as a corrupt cop goes missing after claiming to harbour secrets that could sink the city’s police force. But in this investigation, it seems all roads lead to Rebus–and Clarke’s twin loyalties to the public and the police will be tested to their limit. A reckoning is coming–and John Rebus may be hearing the call for last orders…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Bleeding heart yard / Griffiths, Elly
“DS Cassie Fitzgerald has a secret but it’s one she’s deleted from her memory. In the 1990s when she was at school, she and her friends killed a fellow pupil. Thirty years later, Cassie is happily married and loves her job as a police officer. One day her husband persuades her to go to a school reunion and another ex-pupil, Garfield Rice, is found dead, supposedly from a drug overdose. As Garfield was an eminent MP and the investigation is high profile, it’s headed by Cassie’s new boss, DI Harbinder Kaur. The trouble is, Cassie can’t shake the feeling that one of her old friends has killed again. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dark deeds down under
“This crime and thriller anthology, from Clan Destine Press, showcases the breadth and depth of modern Australian and New Zealand crime writing in a collection of brand-new short stories from some of our brightest storytelling talents: international bestsellers, award winners, and fresh voices. Dark Deeds Down Under features some of crime fiction’s most beloved ‘characters’, including Garry Disher’s Hirsch, Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman, Vanda Symon’s Sam Shephard.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The long knives / Welsh, Irvine
“Ritchie Gulliver MP is dead. Left to bleed in an empty Leith warehouse. Vicious, racist and corrupt, many thought he had it coming. But nobody could have predicted this. After the life Gulliver has led, the suspects are many: corporate rivals, political opponents, the countless groups he’s offended. And the vulnerable and marginalised, who bore the brunt of his cruelty – those without a voice, without a choice, without a chance. As Detective Ray Lennox unravels the truth, and the list of brutal attacks grows, he must put his personal feelings aside. But one question refuses to go away… Who are the real victims here?”  (Adapted from Catalogue)
Marple : twelve new stories
“A brand-new collection of short stories featuring the Queen of Mystery’s legendary detective Jane Marple, penned by 12 remarkable best-selling and acclaimed authors. This collection of 12 original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery … ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The King Arthur case : a Brittany mystery / Bannalec, Jean-Luc
“The forest of Broceliande, with its picturesque lakes and castles, is the last remnant of the fairy kingdom, if Breton lore is to be believed. Innumerable legends spanning thousands of years are set here, including the tale of King Arthur and the Round Table. It seems to be an appropriate destination for Commissaire Dupin and his team to take a late summer field trip. But when the body of a historian turns up, Dupin is called upon to investigate the brutal murder case. Before too long, there are more victims…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Nefarious Novels at Newtown: Now available on YouTube

Recently at our Newtown Library we had the  rare opportunity to hear three of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most outstanding  crime writers: Renée, Jennifer Lane, and Anne Harré in conversation with Louise Dowdell.

This fabulous event included the  launch of two new books Renée’s new book Blood Matters and Jennifer Lane’s second novel Miracle and, to round off the trio in style, we had Anne Harré’s highly acclaimed The Leaning man.

It was a fabulous night: this very special event has now passed into the annals of the past but with the authors and publishers’ permission we were able to film the proceedings.

The very special guest panel featured:


Iconic New Zealand author Renée was born in 1929 in Napier and has so far written over twenty highly acclaimed plays — many of them works that humanise and centre working-class people and feature women in leading roles. She has also published (so far) ten fiction works including The Wild Card, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards. Her latest work  is Blood Matters.

Jennifer Lane

Jennifer Lane’s debut novel, All Our Secrets, established her as an author to keep a close eye on; quickly gaining rave reviews, the book went on to win the much-coveted Best First Novel Award at the Ngaio Marsh Awards in 2018. Her second novel Miracle has just been released.

Anne Harré

Anne Harré’s debut novel The Leaning Man is a gripping, suspenseful page-turning thrill ride of a book (you are very likely to stay up very late to see what happens next). It is set in our very own windy Wellington and in some respects is a love letter to the city with its perfectly visualised, vivid, and evocative descriptions of the capital. And to top it all, one of the locations in the book is our very own Te Awe Library, with accompanying fictional librarian. The book gathered glowing reviews from the likes of  The Listener and The Dominion Post, as well as RNZ.

Renée, Jennifer Lane, and Anne Harré were interviewed by Wellington City Libraries’ very own Louise Dowdell.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to authors Renée, Jennifer Lane, Anne Harré, Mary McCallum  and The Cuba Press for making this very special and totally unmissable event happen .

You can now view the video below, or visit our You Tube channel.

Blood Matters / Renée
“Puti loves to run, but she  doesn’t feel safe anymore – especially when she discovers her grandfather has been murdered with a Judas mask on his face  and another mask has gone missing. She’s also  the guardian of ten-year-old Bella Rose, who wants to be a private investigator when she grows up.  Puti and Bella Rose try to solve the murders and who took the mask.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)


Miracle / Lane, Jennifer
“Born in the middle of Australia’s biggest-ever earthquake, Miracle is fourteen when her world crumbles. Thanks to her dad’s new job at Compassionate Cremations — which falls under suspicion for Boorunga’s spate of sudden deaths — the entire town turns against their family. She fears for her agoraphobic mother, and for her angelic, quake-damaged brother, Julian. When Oli plays a cruel trick on Miracle, he sets off a chain of devastating events. Then her dad is arrested for a brutal attack. How can she convince the town of her dad’s innocence?” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

The leaning man / Harré, Anne
“Wellington. The land dips and rolls, the wind has a life of its own. It’s Saturday night down on the wharf. Celebrations are in full swing for the Westons’ fortieth wedding anniversary. Their daughter Stella has returned from London to attend. She’s now a private investigator in London, reduced to filming errant husbands for court cases. She doesn’t want to be home. Later that night her best friend Teri is found dead in a lane in the central city. Her phone is missing. It looks like suicide, but Stella won’t believe it. The race is on between those who want the phone, the homeless man who’s pocketed it, and Stella.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty – who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home – has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered – her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too. As Ruby goes deeper into the mystery of Betty’s death she starts to find answers to questions about herself that she hadn’t dared ask before.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All our secrets / Lane, Jennifer
“A girl called Gracie. A small town called Coongahoola with the dark Bagooli River running through it. 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, for the kids who are taken, for the lurking fear that locks down the town and puts everyone under suspicion. Coongahoola is where hope and fear collide, where tender adolescence is confronted by death, where kindness is a glimmer of light  in the dark.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

These two hands / Renée
“Renee Paule lives in Otaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there. This is just one version of her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)



Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
“‘Wednesday to come’ (a play for 6 women and 2 men) shows the effect of the Great Depression on four generations of women from the same family. In ‘Pass it on’ (a play for 3 women and 3 men) the teenager Jeannie from ‘Wednesday to come’ is now a young woman in her 30s dealing with the 1951 Waterfront Lockout. The final play in the trilogy goes back in time to life in Victorian Dunedin: ‘Jeannie once’ (a play for 6 women and 3 men) looks at this world through the eyes of Jeannie’s great-grandmother, Granna in ‘Wednesday to come’.” (Adapted from Catalogue)