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)

Upcoming Event: Capital Crimes – Karori Mystery in the Library 9th April

Are you a fan of mysteries? The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Wellington City Libraries, invites booklovers to a fun evening of criminally good conversation, featuring four acclaimed local storytellers. This is a free event.

Event details

What? A panel discussion with local authors Jennifer Lane (2018 Ngaio Marsh Award Winner, panel chair), Rajorshi Chakraborti, Helen Vivienne Fletcher, and Rodney Strong, on how they craft memorable characters and page-turning storylines, and infuse their books with real-life issues and insights into people and society

When? 6pm, Friday 9 April 2021

Where? Karori Library, 247 Karori Road, Wellington

Pictures of authors together with their book covers, superimposed over a picture of Wellington harbour

About the panel

Jennifer Lane

Catalogue link: All our secrets, by Jennifer Lane

Jennifer Lane is a copywriter, short story writer and author. Her short stories have been published in journals and magazines in New Zealand and Australia. Jennifer’s debut novel, All Our Secrets, won the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel.

Rajorshi Chakraborti

Catalogue link: Shakti, by Rajorshi Chakraborti

Rajorshi Chakraborti is a novelist, essayist and short story writer who grew up in Calcutta and Mumbai. The author of six novels, he was longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural mystery thriller set in India.

Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Catalogue link: Broken Silence, by Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Helen Vivienne Fletcher is a playwright, poet, writing teacher and children’s author. She has been shortlisted for the Joy Cowley Award, was named Outstanding Young Playwright at the Wellington Theatre Awards and was a finalist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Rodney Strong

Catalogue link: Troy's possibilities, by Rodney Strong

Rodney Strong is a Porirua author who left his day job in 2016 to follow his lifelong dream of being a writer. He has now published ten novels for children and adults, including four Ghostly Hitchhiker mysteries and three Silvermoon Retirement Village mysteries.


Don’t forget to check out our second Ngaio Marsh Awards event later in the month — A Capital Crimespree – Newtown Mystery in the Library (6pm on April 30th at Newtown Library), featuring Brannavan Gnanalingam, Dame Fiona Kidman, Sally J Morgan and New York Times bestselling writing duo Dr Judy Melinek and T.J Michell. Both events are unmissable!

‘Cooking the books’ with Professor Val McDermid

‘What has Queen of crime fiction Professor Val McDermid been doing during lockdown?’… could easily  be one of the questions we ask Val in our upcoming Q & A session.

We already know at least part of the answer to this question: Val has been ‘cooking the books’ in a series of delicious, brilliant and funny videos where she shows you how to cook dishes originally prepared by the characters in her novels.

Have a watch of her video recipe for Hamish’s ‘hipster porridge’, which also includes a reading of an extract from her sixth ‘Karen Pirie’ novel, Still Life. Bonus fact — she uses a spurtle from New Zealand to make the porridge!

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

And if you’ve ever wanted to ask Val a question, now’s your chance! Val has kindly agreed to answer questions from her Wellington readers in a Q&A with the library to be recorded on video and released online later this month.

Send us your questions for Val by Wednesday 10 February and we’ll do our best to get them answered. A big thank you to Val McDermid for agreeing to do this Q & A session!

Email a question — enquiries@wcl.govt.nz

You can also send a question via:

Love Val’s books? Have a browse of our extensive Val McDermid collection available for borrowing:

Val McDermid on the Library Catalogue

Keep an eye out for our Val McDermid interview coming soon!

Ask the queen of crime fiction, Val McDermid, a question

Browse Val McDermid's books on our catalogue

We’re excited to announce that bestselling queen of crime fiction Val McDermid has kindly agreed to answer questions from her Wellington readers in a Q&A to be recorded on video this month.

Send us your questions for Val by Wednesday 10 February and we’ll do our best to get them answered. A big thank you to Val McDermid for agreeing to do this Q & A session!

Email a question — enquiries@wcl.govt.nz

About 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:

The  Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series has also been adapted into a TV series — the critically acclaimed Wire in the blood.

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.

So, send us your questions for Val! You can use the email link above, or contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram on or before Wednesday 10 February, and we’ll do our best to put your questions to Val in our interview.

You can also read more about Val at her website below:

Visit valmcdermid.com

Have a browse of Val’s work below, and keep an eye out here and on social media for our Val McDermid interview coming soon!


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. In her search for the truth, Karen uncovers a network of lies that has gone unchallenged for years. But lies and secrets can turn deadly when someone is determined to keep them hidden for good…”( Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

A place of execution / McDermid, Val
“On a freezing day in December 1963, Alison Carter vanishes from her rural village, an insular community that distrusts the outside world. For the young George Bennett, a newly promoted inspector, it is the beginning of his most difficult and harrowing case – a suspected murder with no body, an investigation with more dead ends and closed faces than he’d have found in the anonymity of the inner city, and an outcome that reverberates through the years.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The mermaids singing / McDermid, Val
“Another body has been found. The fourth. Now even the most reluctant members of the Bradfield police department have to admit they have a serial killer on their hands. A sicko.” “All the victims have been young men, their naked bodies broken and battered. All have been tortured.” “Detective Inspector Carol Jordan has been working around the clock, teamed with criminologist Dr. Tony Hill. While Jordan is hunting for clues, Hill is composing a psychological profile of the murderer.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The wire in the blood / McDermid, Val
” Young girls are disappearing around the country, and there is nothing to connect them to one another, let alone the killer whose charming manner hides a warped and sick mind. Dr Tony Hill, head of the new National Profiling Task Force, sets his team an exercise: they are given the details of missing teenagers and asked to discover any possible links between the cases. For Tony Hill, the murder becomes a matter for personal revenge and, joined by colleague Carol Jordan, he embarks on a campaign of psychological terrorism – a game where hunter and hunted can all too easily be reversed.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Booked for murder : the fifth Lindsay Gordon mystery / McDermid, Val
“Why would anyone want to kill bestselling author Penny Varnavides? Her demise can’t be the freak accident it first appeared to be: it is an exact replica of the unique murder method employed in her forthcoming novel. Only three people seemed to know the details of this unpublished book – her literary agent, her editor, and her ex-girlfriend, Meredith. Who stood to gain the most from Penny’s death? Did anyone else know about this unusual plot device?” “In an effort to clear her friend Meredith’s name, Lindsay Gordon delves beneath the glittering facade of the high-powered, seemingly glamorous world of London publishing in search of a murderer.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Northanger Abbey / McDermid, Val
“A modern re-imagining of the Gothic Classic Northanger Abbey by the bestselling crime author Val McDermid. The second book in The Austen Project. Cartier Diamond Dagger winner McDermid puts her gifts to good use in this update of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which features sheltered young Cat Morland, who’s charmed by Henry Tilney when she visits Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. Jane Austen in the hands of queen of crime, Val McDermid. Get ready for a very different Northanger Abbey.” (Catalogue)

Forensics : what bugs, burns, prints, DNA, and more tell us about crime / McDermid, Val
Val McDermid is one of the finest crime writers we have, whose novels have captivated millions of readers worldwide with their riveting narratives of characters who solve complex crimes and confront unimaginable evil. In the course of researching her bestselling novels McDermid has become familiar with every branch of forensics, and now she uncovers the history of this science, real-world murders and the people who must solve them. It’s a journey that will take McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.” (Catalogue)

Come hear Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Dylan Horrocks and Craig Gamble…

You are cordially invited to a very special lunchtime event for Monsters in the Garden: An Anthology of Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy.

In attendance we are delighted to announce will be four of our most accomplished writers in New Zealand: Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Dylan Horrocks and Craig Gamble.

The Monsters in the Garden anthology casts its net with tales from the 19th century to the cutting-edge present day. And stories of Spaceships, dragons, AI, worried sheep and even one about a shopping mall that swallows the Earth.

This wonderful anthology features New Zealand luminaries such as Janet Frame and Maurice Gee and as well as more contemporary writers.

This unmissable event will have conversations and readings from Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Dylan Horrocks and Craig Gamble the event is Free and all are very welcome.

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9th December 2020

Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street

12.30pm to 1.30 pm

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Monsters in the Garden : An Anthology of Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy / Knox, Elizabeth
” Casting its net widely, this anthology of Aotearoa-New Zealand science fiction and fantasy ranges from the 19th century to the cutting-edge present day. Tales of Spaceships, dragons, AI and a shopping mall that swallows the Earth. The anthology features New Zealand luminaries such as Janet Frame, Margaret Mahy and Maurice Gee and as well as contemporary writers such as the Hugo shortlisted Tamsyn Muir, (Booker winning) Keri Hulme, Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Pip Adam, Dylan Horrocks, Jack Barrowman, Craig Gamble ,David Larsen, Godfrey Sweven, Patricia Grace, Owen Marshall, Phillip Mann, Witi Ihimaera, Juliet Marillier, Bernard Beckett, Danyl Mclauchlan, Kirsten McDougall, Lawrence Patchett, Octavia Cade, Rachael Craw, Karen Healey, Jack Barrowman, Emma Martin, Samantha Lane Murphy and Jack Larsen.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Dreamhunter / Knox, Elizabeth
“‘ Set in 1906, Dreamhunter describes a world very similar to ours, except for a special place, known simply as the Place, where only a select group of people can go. these people are called Dreamhunters and they harvest dreams which are then transmitted to the general public for the purposes of entertainment, therapy – or terror and political coercion. Fifteen-year-old cousins Laura Hame and Rose Tiebold both come from famous dreamhunting families, but only Laura proves to be blessed with the gift and once inside the Place she finds out what happened to her missing dreamhunter father . ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The imaginary lives of James Pōneke / Makereti, Tina
‘The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But first I must finish my story for you. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen.’So begins the tale of James Poneke- orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. All the world’s a stage, especially when you’re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander on the savage streets of Victorian London. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Sam Zabel and the magic pen / Horrocks, Dylan
“A burned-out superhero comic artist goes on an adventure that spans time and space–with two female companions. Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds. (Adapted from Catalogue)