The Wild Card: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Renée

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.

Amongst the shortlist for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards is New Zealand writing icon and legend Renée. Born in 1929 in Napier. After she left school age 12 Renée went on to work in a wide variety of jobs including in a dairy, as a cleaner in an Auckland’s Theatre and as a feature writer and reviewer. After completing a BA in 1979 Renée became more closely involved in community theatre and started writing for the stage. Having written so far over twenty  plays many of them featuring women in leading roles and works that often humanise working-class people.

Renée describes herself as a ‘lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals’ and nearly all of her written works expound these beliefs.

As well as numerous plays Renée has published nine fiction works and in 2018 was awarded the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement. And her fascinating, funny and insightful memoir These Two Hands, initially published in 2017 has been released in a new edition with three new chapters and an index

Renée has also tutored creative writing classes and also presents an annual writing guide for those who have or have had cancer and want to write about that experience.

Astonishingly The Wild Card is her first crime novel. Ruby the female lead in The Wild Card is a strong rounded character and the plot revolves round a crime against a Māori state ward. Described by reviewers as “Superb… a gripping read that covers some brutal topics”.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thank you to Renée for her time and such a great interview. And we wish her 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!

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: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. 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. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The skeleton woman : a romance / Renée
“A baby on the doorstep, a skeleton woman biding time before the truth comes out. Rose Anthony’s life has just become much more complicated. Renee’s latest novel carries the reader on an entertaining roller coaster ride of mystery and intrigue. A rich tapestry of a tale guaranteed to keep the reader hooked from start to finish. Rose Anthony’s life has just become more complicated. There’s a baby abandoned on her doorstep, and long-kept secrets are about to fly into the open…A tightly plotted literary lesbian romance, delightfully told by New Zealand writer Renee.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Kissing shadows / Renée
“When Vivvie Caird is faced by the sight of her beautiful, strong-willed mother lying limp and speechless in a hospital bed, she feels empowered to begin unlocking the mystery that is her fathers legacy. Vivvies nave undertaking soon finds a parallel in her mothers own account of what happened when her husband left home one day, never to return. A family, and a court must confront a devastating event that occurred in the midst of the hard times of last century. This fast-paced, page-turning novel takes the reader into an absorbing and moving world of shadowy relationships and intrigue.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
” In Wednesday To Come Renee takes four women of four generations in a single family and looks at how they cope with the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Pass It On, Jeannie and Cliff, the two adolescents joined the hunger march in Wednesday to Come, have each grown up and married. Pass It On explores the very different experiences of Jeannie, the political activist, and Cliff’s wife Nell, and traces their relationship from initial distrust to a firm allegiance against the political and economic forces which threaten their families. Jeannie Once, tells the story of Jeannie’s great grandmother living in Victorian era Dunedin.” (Catalogue)

These two hands : a memoir / 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.” (Catalogue)

 

 

And below some of the books Renée mentions in her interview.

Gaudy Night : A Lord Peter Wimsey mystery with Harriet Vane / Sayers, Dorothy L.
” The third Dorothy L. Sayers classic to feature mystery writer Harriet Vane, Gaudy Night features an introduction by Elizabeth George, herself a crime fiction master. Gaudy Night takes Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter, to Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater, for a reunion, only to find themselves the targets of a nightmare of harassment and mysterious, murderous threats.
Chicago Tribune ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

And then there were none / Christie, Agatha
“Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Artists in crime / Marsh, Ngaio
“In the movies, it’s known as a “meet cute.” But for Inspector Alleyn and Miss Agatha Troy, it’s more like irritation: On the ship back to England, she finds him tedious and dull; he thinks she’s a bohemian cliché. They may be destined for romance, but there’s a murder in the way: No sooner has Alleyn settled in to his mother’s house, eager for a relaxing end to his vacation, then he gets a call that a model has been stabbed at the artists’ community down the road. And the artistic Miss Troy is one of the community’s most prominent and outspoken members. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mind readers / Allingham, Margery
“Sam Ferris is an ordinary English schoolboy. Well, except for a few things. One: His father is an eminent scientist, based on a military research island off the English coast. Two: Sam is about to be interviewed by a solicitor, giving evidence, in a serious legal matter, against one of his favorite teachers. And three: Sam can read minds. But there’s a four: Sam’s uncle is Albert Campion. And Sam’s story, in all its seemingly unrelated elements, gives his Uncle Albert quite a lot to be curious about. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The broken shore / Temple, Peter
” Shaken by a scrape with death, big-city detective Joe Cashin is posted away from the Homicide Squad to a quiet town on the South Australian coast. Carrying physical scars and not a little guilt, he spends his time playing the country cop, walking his dogs, and thinking about how it all was before. When a prominent local is attacked and left for dead in his own home, Cashin is thrust into a murder investigation. The evidence points to three boys from the nearby aboriginal community, whom everyone wants to blame. Cashin is unconvinced, and soon begins to see the outlines of something far more terrible than a simple robbery gone wrong.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Into the Void: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Christina O’Reilly

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to present a video piece from Christina O’Reilly author of Into the Void.

As her accent still shows Christina grew up in England and emigrated to NZ at the age of twelve.  As well as a writer, Christina is a freelance copy editor and proof reader and has had her short stories published in several anthologies.

Christina had written several previous novels   before being longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins memorial prize which gave her the confidence to publish this novel.

Into the void introduces us to DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers. The plot revolves round the disappearance of rural banker Richard Harper his disappearance possess many questions is he really dead? or has he been abducted and tortured?   Eventually it all becomes a race against time as the case descends into a mire of murder, violence and obsession.

One review described the book in the following way    “O’Reilly’s characters are all strong, believable people with equally believable domestic lives and troubles. It’s nicely flavoured with New Zealandness without feeing contrived and carries a story which would work in any international setting”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Christina for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s 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 Christina and were mentioned in her interview.


The babes in the wood : a Chief Inspector Wexford mystery / Rendell, Ruth
“With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy. Their hysterical mother is convinced that all three have drowned, and as the hours stretch into days Wexford suspects a case of kidnapping, perhaps connected with an unusual sect called the Church of the Good Gospel. But when the sitter’s smashed-up car is found at the bottom of a local quarry-occupied by a battered corpse-the investigation takes on a very different hue. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover End in Tears, Ruth Rendell (Audiobook)
“A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while… It is impossible for Chief Inspector Wexford not to wonder how terrible it would be to discover that one of his daughters had been murdered. Sylvia has always been a cause for concern. Living alone with her two children, she is pregnant again.  The relationship between father and daughter has always been uneasy. But the current situation also provokes an emotional division between Wexford and his wife, Dora.  (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The secret garden / Burnett, Frances Hodgson
“Born in India, the unattractive and willful Mary Lennox has remained in the care of servants for as long as she can remember. But the girl’s life changes when her mother and father die and she travels to Yorkshire to live with her uncle. Dark, dreary Misselthwaite Manor seems full of mysteries, including a very special garden, locked tight for 10 years. With the help of Dickon, a local boy, Mary intends to uncover its secrets.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an Audiobook.

Into the void / O’Reilly, Christina
“How easy is it for a man to simply disappear? When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis? Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened? Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here.

Mistry Law and More: New Mystery Fiction

This month’s new mystery titles include the latest novel from author Sujata Massey, best known for her Agatha Award-winning Rei Shimura series. Massey’s most recent work is A Murder at Malabar Hill, described by The Spinoff as “a sumptuous crime story starring a rule-breaking badass in a sari”.

We’ve also got great new work from Berlin and London-based writer Jessica Moor. Moor’s debut novel The Keeper centres on a women’s refuge, and is based on Moor’s own experiences. For more on her time writing The Keeper, have a read of this interview at Crimespree Magazine.

A murder at Malabar Hill / Massey, Sujata
“1920s Bombay: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Temple House vanishing / Donohue, Rachel
“In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school, the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere, two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, who encourages their flirtation. Then, he and Louisa vanish. Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The guest list / Foley, Lucy
“On a remote island, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. All have a secret. All have a motive. One guest won’t leave this wedding alive…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The keeper / Moor, Jessica
“When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police are ready to write it off as a standard-issue suicide. But the residents of the domestic violence shelter where Katie worked disagree. These women have spent weeks or even years waiting for the men they’re running from to catch up with them. They know immediately: this was murder. Still, Detective Dan Whitworth expects an open-and-shut case–until they discover evidence that suggests Katie wasn’t who she appeared.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The recovery of Rose Gold / Wrobel, Stephanie
“For the first 18 years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold. Turns out her mom, Patty, was just a really good liar. After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We begin at the end / Whitaker, Chris
“30 years ago, Vincent King became a killer. Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed. Duchess Radley, Star’s 13-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The lizard / Bruce-Lockhart, Dugald
“Obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Alistair Haston heads off to Greece, where she is on holiday, to try and rekindle their relationship. On the ferry from Athens he is offered a lucrative job, recruiting tourists to pose for and, he later discovers, to sleep with, Heinrich a wealthy and charismatic, German artist. Swept away on a tide of wild parties, wild sex, fine food and drugs Haston sheds his reserve and throws himself headlong into the pursuit of pleasure. Until, a body is found and the finger of blame points to Haston.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Little disasters / Vaughan, Sarah
When Jess arrives at hospital with a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call. Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is holding so many secrets. As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess, and about herself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The clutter corpse / Brett, Simon
“Ellen Curtis runs her own business as a declutterer, helping people who are running out of space. When Ellen stumbles across the body of a woman in an over-cluttered flat, suspicion immediately falls on the deceased homeowner’s son, who has recently absconded from prison. No doubt Nate Ogden is guilty of many things – but is he really the killer?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fatal Flaws and Wild Cards: New Mystery Fiction!

Ready for some New Year mysteries? Look no further than our first booklist for 2020! Top of the pile is The Wild Card by Renée (Ngāti Kahungungu). As Ataria Sharman explains in The Pantograph Punch,  protagonist Ruby Palmer “is no damsel-in-distress. She’s a theatre-stealing, boss ass wahine toa determined to solve the mystery of her friend’s death, even at risk to her own life.”

Also in this month is the fourth book in the Wyndham and Banerjee historical crime series by Abir Mukherjee as well as the second novel by German writer Simone Buchholz to be translated in to English. Enjoy!

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. To discover the truth, Ruby needs to find the wild card, and fast.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The ashes of London / Taylor, Andrew
“London, 1666. As the Great Fire consumes everything in its path, the body of a man is found in the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral. The son of a traitor, James Marwood is forced to hunt the killer through the city’s devastated streets. There he encounters a determined young woman who will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. When a second murder victim is discovered in the Fleet Ditch, Marwood is drawn into the political and religious intrigue of Westminster – and across the path of a killer with nothing to lose…” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Death in the East / Mukherjee, Abir
“1922, India. Leaving Calcutta, Captain Sam Wyndham heads for the hills of Assam, to the ashram of a sainted monk where he hopes to conquer his opium addiction. But when he arrives, he sees a ghost from his life in London – a man thought to be long dead, a man Wyndham hoped he would never see again. Wyndham knows he must call his friend and colleague Sergeant Banerjee for help. He is certain this figure from his past isn’t here by coincidence. He is here for revenge . . .” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Beton Rouge / Buchholz, Simone
On a warm September morning, an unconscious man is found in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of Germany’s biggest magazines. He’s soon identified as a manager of the company, and he’s been tortured. Three days later, another manager appears in a similar way. Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect . . . to the dubious past shared by both victims.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

One fatal flaw / Perry, Anne
“It is 1910 and a fire has left one criminal dead and another charged with murder. Convinced of his innocence, Jessie Beale begs barrister Daniel Pitt to defend him. It’s a hopeless case–unless Daniel can find a witness whose testimony on fire damage is so convincing that any jury would believe him. Daniel’s friend Miriam Croft was taught by forensic scientist Sir Barnabas Saltram, who has built his reputation on giving evidence of this kind. But when Saltram agrees to testify, Daniel starts a chain of devastating events.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Murder fest / Wassmer, Julie
“A local Arts Festival is being held to honour a cultural exchange visit from representatives of Borken – Whitstable’s Twin Town in Germany. Yet very soon, personality clashes surface among the participants; local politicians try to use the festival for their own ends while others jostle for improved billing on the festival programme. Tempers flare, old feuds re-surface and on the eve of the first event, a cryptic message – Murder Fest – is received by the local police.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Dublin Noir: New Mystery Fiction

What exactly makes a murderer? What leads to the decision to kill? These are the questions Irish author Olivia Kiernan considered when writing the second book in her Frankie Sheehan series, The Killer in Me. The Financial Times has called The Killer in Me fresh, tense and gruesome, while the Wall Street Journal described it as a “captivating new thriller.” Now you, too, can discover why it just might be one of the best police procedural stories this year.

Also new to Wellington City Libraries this month: the latest works from Christi Daugherty, S.C. Perkins and Scottish author (and founder of the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival) Alex Gray. Enjoy!

Only the dead can tell / Gray, Alex
“When Dorothy Guildford is found stabbed to death in her home, all signs point to her husband, Peter. The forensic psychologist is convinced there’s more to the case than meets the eye but Police Scotland are certain they have their man. While DC Kirsty Wilson searches for evidence that will put Peter away for good, she is shocked to discover a link to a vast human-trafficking operation . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

The killer in me / Kiernan, Olivia
“Murder convict Sean Hennessy is released from prison to return to a seaside community in Dublin. He has always professed his innocence. But within months of his release, two bodies appear in the peaceful suburb of Clontarf. With a TV documentary pushing the public’s sympathies in Hennessy’s direction, the original evidence against him is called into question and Detective Frankie Sheehan finds herself doubting her original analysis of the case.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

Murder once removed / Perkins, S. C.
“According to her friends, Lucy Lancaster, Austin, Texas genealogist, has never been drunk. Tipsy, sure, but drunk? No way. So when she arrives back at her office from a three-martini lunch a few sheets to the wind, it’s a notable occasion. Even more momentous is what her client, Austin billionaire Gus Halloran, has announced on live television with a blotto Lucy standing at his side: Texas senator Caleb Applewhite might be responsible for the murder of Seth Halloran.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

A dangerous collaboration / Raybourn, Deanna
“Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker’s brother calls in a favour. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly’s house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée–much to Stoker’s chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

A beautiful corpse / Daugherty, Christi
“With its antebellum houses and ancient oak trees draped in a veil of Spanish moss, Savannah’s graceful downtown is famous around the world. When a woman is killed in the heart of that affluent district, the shock is felt throughout the city. But for crime reporter Harper McClain, this story is personal. The corpse has a familiar face . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

New Mysteries

Nefarious business tactics, buried secrets and deadly coincidences are woven through our latest selection of fiction mysteries. The imaginations of these talented authors deal with the machinations of the darker side of human nature.  The landscapes, cities and villages that host these tales feature as essential characters in these tales. Our  selection includes Donna Leon’s new Venetian novel, awash with her fascination for minor vices and drastic consequences. A new northern European detective hero is revealed in shape of Embla Nystrom, a welter weight prize-winner, hunter and female detective inspector whose talents and skills are about to be tested to the limit in Helene Tursten’s Hunting Game.

Accessing new titles has become easier with the removal of reserve fees. As before you can can choose any location to collect your chosen books.  Some of our new titles can be found through Overdrive as eBooks or eAudiobooks. This post highlights the library online access where possible.  All the titles in this new Mystery fiction selection are available in print form also.

Overdrive cover The Scholar, Dervla McTiernan (ebook) (eAudiobook) (print)
“When DS Cormac Reilly’s girlfriend, Emma, stumbles across the victim of a hit and run early one morning outside the laboratory at Galway University, he is first on the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him. The dead girl is carrying an ID, that of Carline Darcy, heir apparent to Darcy Therapeutics, Ireland’s most successful pharmaceutical company. Darcy Therapeutics has a finger in every pie, it has funded Emma’s own ground-breaking research. As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and increasingly, to Emma herself. Cormac is sure she couldn’t be involved, but how well does he really know her?” (Catalogue)

Murder at the British Museum / Eldridge, Jim
“1894. A well-respected academic is found dead in a gentlemen’s convenience cubicle at the British Museum, the stall locked from the inside. Professor Pickering had been due to give a talk promoting the museum’s new ‘Age of King Arthur’ exhibition when he was stabbed repeatedly in the chest. Daniel Wilson is called in to solve the mystery of the locked cubicle murder, and he brings his expertise and archaeologist Abigail Fenton with him. But  the museum becomes the site of another fatality and the pair face mounting pressure to deliver results. With persistent journalists, local vandals and a fanatical society, Wilson and Fenton face a race against time to salvage the reputation of the museum and catch a murderer desperate for revenge.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Hunting Game, Helene Tursten (ebook) (print)
 “Helene Tursten’s explosive new series features Detective Inspector Embla Nyström, a sharp, unforgiving woman working in a man’s world. From a young age, 28-year-old Embla Nystrom has been plagued by chronic nightmares and racing thoughts. She has learned to channel most of her anxious energy into her position as Detective Inspector in the mobile unit in Gothenburg, Sweden. When one of her peers is murdered during a routine hunting trip, Embla must track down the killer while confronting a dark incident from her past.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Hallowdene / Mann, George
“Former London journalist Elspeth Reeves is trying to carve a new life for herself in the sleepy Oxfordshire countryside, until she’s sent to cover the excavation of a notorious local witch’s grave. Three hundred years ago, her name mixed up with murder and black magic, Agnes Levett was hanged and then buried under an immense stone, to prevent her spirit from ever rising again. Elspeth investigates, but soon finds there is far more to the old tale than meets the eye, as the surrounding area is rocked by a series of mysterious and brutal murders, all of people somehow connected with the dig. She and her childhood friend DS Peter Shaw race to uncover the truth, but secrets lain buried for centuries are not easily discovered.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverUnto us a son is given / Donna Leon.
“The latest of Donna Leon’s bestselling Venice crime novels. As a favour to his wealthy father-in-law, Commissario Guido Brunetti agrees to investigate the seemingly innocent wish of the Count’s best friend, the elderly and childless Gonzalo, to adopt a younger man as his son. Under Italian inheritance laws, this man would become the sole heir to Gonzalo’s substantial fortune, something which Gonzalo’s friends,  find appalling. For his part, Brunetti wonders why they’re so intent on meddling in the old man’s business. Not long after Brunetti meets with Gonzalo, the elderly man unexpectedly passes away from natural causes. Old and frail, Gonzalo’s death goes unquestioned. But when Berta, one of Gonzalo’s closest confidantes, is strangled in her hotel room, Brunetti is drawn into long-buried secrets from Gonzalo’s past. What did Berta know? And who would go to such lengths to ensure it would remain hidden?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFalse account / Veronica Heley.
“The mysterious deaths of two adored cats plunges Bea into the disturbing goings-on of the Tredgold family in the latest Abbot Agency mystery. Wealthy Marcia Tredgold and her daughter, Charlotte, want Bea Abbot to find them replacements for staff who have left under a cloud. Bea discovers that all those dismissed were close to Marcia Tredgold, and senses that something is not right. Were they framed, and if so by whom and why? In her quest to uncover the truth, Bea’s own safety is put at risk.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

The godless / Doherty, Paul
“A number of prostitutes in 14th century London are brutally murdered, with blood-red wigs placed upon their heads; at the same time a war cog ship bound for Calais is destroyed: is there a connection, and are the rumours true that the mysterious Oriflamme is responsible? Brother Athelstan returns to uncover the truth, and of who – or what – he is.” (Catalogue)

 

Syndetics book coverNever tell / Lisa Gardner.
“One death might be an accident.
Two deaths looks like murder.
A man is shot dead in his own home, and his pregnant wife, Evie, is found with the gun in her hands. Detective D.D. Warren instantly recognises her. Sixteen years ago, Evie also shot her own father. That killing was ruled an accident. D.D. doesn’t believe in coincidences. But this case isn’t as open and shut as it first appears, and her job is to discover the truth. Evie might be a victim. Or she might be about to get away with murder again.” (Catalogue)

An April Mystery Showcase!

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand”
Neil Armstrong

This month we have a mystery spree, spreading our net to cover a wide variety of novels that feature a mystery somewhere in the plot. We are going to feature books from across the board, from classic novels to New Zealand titles, award-winners to massively popular bestsellers. As long as they have a mystery at their heart then they have a chance to get in this showcase. Enjoy!

Overdrive cover The Dance of the Seagull, Andrea Camilleri (ebook) (print)
“Inspector Montalbano is awake at dawn, sitting on his porch, when his attention is caught by a seagull which falls from the sky, performing a strange dance, before lying down to die. Montalbano is perplexed by what he has witnessed and the scene hangs over him like an omen. Montalbano’s dear colleague Fazio is discovered missing – and it transpires that the policeman has been involved in his own secret investigations – Montalbano launches a desperate search for his lost friend, as time begins to run out.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Tess / McDougall, Kirsten
“Tess is on the run when she’s picked up from the side of the road by lonely middle-aged father Lewis Rose. With reluctance, she’s drawn into his family troubles and comes to know a life she never had. Set in Masterton at the turn of the millennium, Tess is a gothic love story about the ties that bind and tear a family apart.” (Catalogue)

 

Overdrive cover The Fifth Witness, Michael Connelly (ebook) (print)
“In tough times, crime is one of the few things that still pays, but even criminals are having to make cut-backs. So for defence lawyer Mickey Haller, most of his new business is not about keeping people out of jail; it’s about keeping a roof over their heads as the foreclosure business is booming. Lisa Trammel has been a client of Mickey’s for eight months, and so far he’s stopped the bank from taking her house. But now the bank’s CEO has been found beaten to death – and Lisa is about to be indicted for murder.” (Overdrive description)

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

Overdrive cover The Complete Ripley Radio Mysteries, Patricia Highsmith (Audiobook)
“In these dramatisations, BBC Radio 4 brings all Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels together in one thrilling series. In The Talented Mr Ripley, Tom makes a bid for another man’s inheritance and succeeds, but has he really got away with it? Ripley Under Ground is set a few years later, when Tom is living in luxury in a French chateau with his beautiful wife Heloise—but the clever art forgery which funds Tom’s expensive tastes is about to be uncovered. In Ripley’s Game, Tom sets up a man he dislikes to carry out two perfect murders, while in The Boy Who Followed Ripley, a rich young stalker arrives at Belle Ombre and he and Tom end up fighting for their lives. Finally, in Ripley Under Water, strange new neighbours show an overdeveloped interest in Ripley’s past. Will Tom’s shady dealings be exposed?” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Strangler’s Honeymoon, Håkan Nesser (ebook) (print)
“Could this be Van Veeteren’s darkest case yet? Desperately lonely, sixteen-year-old Monica Kammerle has little idea of what she is getting herself into when she begins an affair with her mother’s latest partner; the sophisticated Benjamin Kerran… Months later, when a woman’s strangled body is found decomposing in her flat, the Maardam police must discover who has committed this terrible crime. It isn’t long before they realise the perpetrator may have killed before – and is likely to do so again.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Strange Shores, Arnaldur Indridason (ebook) (print)
A young woman walks into the frozen fjords of Iceland, never to be seen again. But Matthildur leaves in her wake rumours of lies, betrayal and revenge.
Decades later, somewhere in the same wilderness, Detective Erlendur is on the hunt. He is looking for Matthildur but also for a long-lost brother, whose disappearance in a snow-storm when they were children has coloured his entire life. He is looking for answers. Slowly, the past begins to surrender its secrets. But as Erlendur uncovers a story about the limits of human endurance, he realises that many people would prefer their crimes to stay buried.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The infinite air / Kidman, Fiona
“The rise and fall of ‘the Garbo of the skies’, as told by one of New Zealand’s finest novelists. A superbly written novel offering an intriguing interpretation of one of the world’s greatest aviators, the glamorous and mysterious Jean Batten. Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave. Fiona Kidman’s enthralling novel delves into the life of this enigmatic woman, exploring mysteries and crafting a fascinating exploration of early flying, of mothers and daughters, and of fame and secrecy.” (Catalogue)

Readers reviews: favourite February fiction

A great way to find out what people are loving in our fiction collection is a swift browse of the Reader’s Choice display. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

The current selection is as eclectic as our multi faceted borrowers. People have reviewed books they have found to be delightful, absorbing, distracting and well written. These reviews are warts and all, some you may find yourself agreeing with, and some you might have a different opinion. Read on, and discover for yourself.

Bright young dead / Fellowes, Jessica
“Meet the Bright Young Things, the rabble-rousing hedonists of the 1920s whose treasure hunts were a media obsession. One such game takes place at the 18th birthday party of Pamela Mitford, but ends in tragedy as cruel, charismatic Adrian Curtis is pushed to his death from the church neighbouring the Mitford home. The police quickly identify the killer as a maid, Dulcie. But Louisa Cannon, chaperone to the Mitford girls and a former criminal herself, believes Dulcie to be innocent, and sets out to clear the girl’s name . . . all while the real killer may only be steps away.” (Catalogue)
Reader’s review: “A good read that encouraged research into the Mitfords, … and the ‘Bright Young Things’ so I know more about the 1920’s than I thought I’d need. The first book wasn’t on the shelf so I hope you have it, if not get it please!”
(Good news reader – we have the first in the series The Mitford murders in the library collection.)

The Hchom book / Churchland, Marian
“If you were a goblin, what would your treasure hoard contain? Gems and minerals, biscuits and pastries, fine-tailored jackets, or perhaps all of the above. The Hchom book collects illustrations and essays from Marian Churchland’s popular, long-running blog, Hchom.com.” (Catalogue)
Reader’s review: “Very creative with cute and interesting designs and illustrations. Relatable content in terms of clothing, food, life”

 

Here and now and then / Chen, Mike
“Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142. Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission. One afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives–eighteen years too late. Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember… A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.” (Catalogue)
Reader’s review: “Superb, modern. Proper time travel that’s both personal and clever. Great twists, hard to put down”

The cottage at Rosella Cove / Docker, Sandie
“Nicole is starting again. She’s left her old life far behind, and has just arrived in the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. At first Nicole is determined to avoid making personal ties, but when she discovers a hidden box of letters she soon realises that she’s not the first person to have lived in the cottage who has been hiding secrets. As Nicole gradually begins to let her guard down, she starts to find real connections with the close-knit community at the Cove – especially with handsome Danny, the local handyman who has been helping her restore the cottage to its former glory. But Nicole still struggles with her own dark past, which seems determined to catch up with her. How long can she keep running? And what will happen if she stops?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review” Despite a rather predictable plot a good example of a writer writing of a location they are familiar with and evokes the goodwill spirit of a small town very well.”

A sacred storm / Brun, Theodore
“Bound by honor. Haunted by loss. 8th Century Sweden: Erlan Aurvandil, a Viking outlander, has pledged his sword to Sviggar Ivarsson, King of the Sve rs, and sworn enemy of the Danish king Harald Wartooth. But Wartooth, hungry for power, is stirring violence in the borderlands. As the fires of this ancient feud are reignited Erlan is bound by honor and oath to stand with King Sviggar. But, unbeknownst to the old King his daughter, Princess Lilla, has fallen under Erlan’s spell. As the armies gather Erlan and Lilla must choose between their duty to Sviggar and their love for each other. Blooded young, betrayed often, Erlan is no stranger to battle. And hidden in the shadows, there are always those determined to bring about the maelstrom of war.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent read for lovers of historical fiction it’s one to enjoy. Some readers may be put off by the novels length but this is hard to put down and the writer left yu gasping for more. Can’t wait to read more by this author”

The pearl thief / McIntosh, Fiona
“Severine Kassel is asked by the Louvre in 1963 to aid the British Museum with curating its antique jewellery, her specialty. Her London colleagues find her distant and mysterious. No one could imagine that she is a desperately damaged woman, hiding her trauma behind her chic, French image. It is only when some dramatic Byzantine pearls are loaned to the Museum that Severine’s poise is dashed. Her shocking revelation of their provenance sets off a frenzied hunt for Nazi Ruda Mayek. Mossad’s interest is triggered and one of its most skilled agents comes out of retirement to join the hunt. From the snowy woodlands outside Prague to the Tuilieries of Paris and the heather-covered moors of Yorkshire comes a confronting and heart-stopping novel that explores whether love and hope can ever overpower atrocity in a time of war and hate.(Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Riveting story. Excellent reading. Very enthralling.”  

A mind of her own / Harris, Rosie
“Newly widowed after fifty years of marriage, Betty Wilson is determined to remain in the home she has lived in the whole of her married life and retain her independence. Deciding she doesn’t need anyone to look after her, she won’t even accept help from loyal family friend Peter Brown. But it’s not always easy to cope when one is growing older. From errant hedge trimmers to unscrupulous conmen and a car which seems to have a mind of its own, modern life offers unexpected hazards for the unwitting septuagenarian. Will Betty accept the devoted Peter’s help and come to realize what he means to her, before it’s all too late…?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Extremely well written but the subject, that is, dementia, the leading to and aftermath of Betty and Peter’s life is sad and depressing, a glimpse into peoples’ lives, the suffering. It ends too abruptly, leaving the reader wondering.”

The winter of the witch / Arden, Katherine
“Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to blame. Vasilisa, a girl with extraordinary gifts, must flee for her life, pursued by those who blame their misfortune on her magic. Then a vengeful demon returns, stronger than ever. Determined to engulf the world in chaos, he finds allies among men and spirits. Mankind and magical creatures alike find their fates resting on Vasya’s shoulders. But she may not be able to save them all.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Great final book in a trilogy. Beautifully written, interesting characters, strong female heroine unusual fantasy structure. Recommended, but read The Bear and the Nightingale first.”

Vigilance / Bennett, Robert Jackson
“The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces “Vigilance,” a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a “game environment,” and the survivors get a cash prize. The TV audience is not the only one that’s watching though, and McDean soon finds out what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Nice surprise to find this on the shelf after returning his terrific Foundryside. This short pertinent tale is an acute take on contemporary USA in all its frightening violence and self-absorption. Highly recommended” 

The kingdom of copper / Chakraborty, S. A.
“Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad–and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there. Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “The book was amazing.”

 

 

Readers’ Choice: People love reading…

Have you ever loved a book so much that you want to stop and tell everyone how wonderful it is? Well now’s your chance!
The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. Book lovers like you!

These selected books are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that other people can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

This month borrowers have loved a range of material from the latest unexpected plot twists in mystery writing to retellings of classic novels.  This eclectic selection reviews the breadth of the fiction collection with science fiction short stories and well researched historical fiction.

Syndetics book coverThe inheritance and other stories / Megan Lindholm, Robin Hobb.
The Inheritance & Other Stories is a marvelous new collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling master storyteller Robin Hobb–including tales written under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm, by which the acclaimed fantasist first began her illustrious writing career. A unique compendium of wonders displaying the breathtaking skill, imagination, and remarkably varied styles of both alter egos.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “I really enjoyed all the stories. I have read Robin Hobb books before and this was a great introduction to her other identity” 

Syndetics book coverTombland / C.J. Sansom.Tombland
“Spring, 1549. Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the prolonged war with Scotland is proving a failure. The economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring.”  (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “This book sets a new bar for historical fiction, with it’s meticulous research, and interweaving of a fictional character and story with the peasant rebellion led by Robert Kett in 1549. It’s the seventh novel in the author’s best selling Shardlake series but can be read as a one off novel… It was very refreshing to read a book on a little known period of English history, with such fantastic description of the period based on thorough research.” 

Syndetics book coverUnequal affections : a Pride & Prejudice retelling / Lara S. Ormiston ; foreword by Devleena Ghosh, PhD.
“When Elizabeth Bennet first knew Mr. Darcy, she despised him and was sure he felt the same. Angered by his pride and reserve, influenced by the lies of the charming Mr. Wickham, she never troubled herself to believe he was anything other than the worst of men until, one day, he unexpectedly proposed. Diverging from Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice at the proposal in the Hunsford parsonage, this story explores the kind of man Darcy is, even before his “proper humbling,” and how such a man, so full of pride, so much in love, might have behaved had Elizabeth chosen to accept his original proposal.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “A beautiful retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A must read for any P+P fan. Utterly un-put-downable! Enjoyed so much.” 

Syndetics book coverThe backstreets of purgatory / Helen Taylor.
“Finn Garvie’s life is one spectacular mess. He spends most of his time fannying around a makeshift Glasgow studio, failing to paint his degree portfolio, while his girlfriend Lizzi treats him like one of her psychology patients. Things take a turn for the strange when he finally encounters the person who’s been bugging him, and it seems to be none other than Caravaggio himself.
Art, truth and madness come to blows in this darkly funny debut novel from a startling new talent.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was very hard to get into to start with but well written making the story blurry between present and the psychotic world” 

Syndetics book coverHeadlong / Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.
“Bill Slider and his team investigate the death of a prominent literary agent in this intriguing contemporary mystery. An embittered ex-wife. A discarded mistress. A frustrated would-be author. A disgruntled former employee. Many had reason to hold a grudge against the late lamented literary agent. But who would feel strongly enough to kill him?” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “Latest in the Detective Slider series. A good read for character development and cops out of work stories. Mystery is OK and well told but not new” 

Syndetics book cover

Charlesgate confidential / by Scott Von Doviak.
“A group of criminals in 1946 pull off the heist of the century, stealing a dozen priceless works of art from a Boston museum. But while the thieves get caught, the art is never found. Forty years later, the last surviving thief gets out of jail and goes hunting for the loot, involving some innocent college students in his dangerous plan.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “Reasonably satisfactory story about reverberations of an art robbery over the decades that follow. Readable and it held me.”

Our hard boiled detective authors crime showcase

The subject was as easy to spot as a kangaroo in a dinner jacket”
― Raymond Chandler, Playback

Hard-boiled fiction is defined by Encyclopaedia Britannica as

“A tough, unsentimental style of American crime writing that brought a new tone of earthy realism or naturalism to the field of detective fiction. Hard-boiled fiction used graphic sex and violence, vivid but often sordid urban backgrounds, and fast-paced, slangy dialogue.”

Of course the style has now been used from authors around the world and it remains one of the most popular crime genre styles to this day. For this months mysteries showcase we have created a collection of of some of the authors we love who use its style or conventions. To open your appetite, below is just a very small selection of the sub genres most famous proponents.  Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverThe postman always rings twice / James M. Cain.The Postman Always Rings Twice
“First published in 1934, The Postman Always Rings Twice caused a scandal with its explosive mix of violence and sex, and immediately became a bestseller. The torrid story of Frank Chambers, the amoral drifter, Cora, the sullen and brooding wife, and Nick Papadakis, the amiable but inconvenient husband, has become a classic of its kind, and established Cain as a major novelist with a spare and vital prose style and a bleak vision of America.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe knife slipped / by Erle Stanley Gardner writing under the name A.A. Fair.
“Lost for more than 75 years, The Knife Slipped was shelved when Gardner’s publisher objected to (among other things) Bertha Cool’s tendency to “talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people.” But this tale of adultery and corruption, of double-crosses and triple identities–however shocking for 1939–shines today as a glorious present from the past. Donald Lam has never been cooler- Bertha Cool has never been tougher. And Erle Stanley Gardner has never been better.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe blonde on the street corner / David Goodis.
“‘She took a final drag at the cigarette, flipped it away, and said, I don’t get this line of talk. It’s way over my head… Maybe you’re waiting for some dream girl to come along in a coach drawn by six white horses, and she’ll pick you up and haul you away to the clouds, where it’s all milk and honey and springtime all year around. Maybe that’s what you’re waiting for. That dream girl.’ Written in 1954, The Blonde on the Street Corner is full of the passions and desires that are the hallmarks of a David Goodis novel.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Maltese falcon ; The thin man ; Red harvest / Dashiell Hammett ; with an introduction by Robert Polito.The Maltese Falcon
“As an operative for Pinkertons Detective Agency Dashiell Hammett knew about sleuthing from the inside, but his career was cut short by the ruin of his health in World War I. These three celebrated novels are therefore the products of a hard real life, not a literary education. Despite or because of that, Hammett had an enormous effect on mainstream writers between the wars. Like his readers, they were attracted by the combination of laconic style, sharp convincing dialogue, vivid settings and, above all, the low-life, hard-boiled characters who populate the streets of his stories.”   (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCotton comes to Harlem / Chester Himes.
“A classic entry in Chester Himes’s trailblazing Harlem Detectives series, Cotton Comes to Harlem is one of his hardest-hitting and most entertaining thrillers.
Flim-flam man Deke O’Hara is no sooner out of Atlanta’s state penitentiary than he’s back on the streets working the scam of a lifetime. As sponsor of the Back-to-Africa movement, he’s counting on a big Harlem rally to produce a massive collection–for his own private charity. But the take is hijacked by white gunmen and hidden in a bale of cotton that suddenly everyone wants to get his hands on.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlways outnumbered, always outgunned / by Walter Mosley.Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned
“Socrates Fortlow, a tough, brooding ex-convict determined to challenge and understand the violence and anarchy in his world — and in himself. Three decades ago, the young Socrates had, in a burst of drunken rage, murdered a man and a woman with his huge rock-breaking hands. In each of the stories that comprise this richly brooding novel, Socrates Fortlow, like his namesake, explores philosophical questions of morality in a world beset with crime, poverty, and racism. He is an unforgettable presence and his perceptions cast a glow of somber lyricism upon an often harsh world. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Mike Hammer omnibus. Vol. 2 / Mickey Spillane.
“Collected here for the first time are three of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels that really deliver the goods, one shade blacker than noir – stories that begin in the gutter and go down from there. Here is a world where the only crime is getting caught, where justice can be bought for the price of a beer, and where corruption lies around every corner. This is Mike Hammer’s world. Welcome to it…and watch out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lady in the lake ; The little sister ; The long goodbye ; Playback / Raymond Chandler ; with an introduction by Tom Hiney.
“An omnibus comprising Raymond Chandler’s three Philip Marlowe novels, The Lady in the Lake, The High Widow and The Little Sister.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Our most popular Fiction: Top reads at a mystery branch location

Our fiction collection brings you the talent of local writers and international award winners. Those brave enough to write out their inner workings or extrapolate on the world around them. So whether you enjoy untangling a thriller with unexpected plot twists or delving into the imagination of the world’s best fantasy writer maybe a reader’s favourite out there will be your next favourite too!

Wellington City Libraries is lucky enough to have eleven branches throughout the city. It’s no surprise that each branch has it’s own particular set of reading loves. This month the most popular ten reads is brought to you from a mystery location, maybe it’s the branch you borrow from?

Transcription / Kate Atkinson.
Syndetics book cover“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever. Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat.” (Syndetics summary)

The furthest station / Ben Aaronovitch.
Syndetics book cover“A brand new novella in the PC Grant series! There’s something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call. It’s PC Peter Grant’s speciality. Only it’s more than going ‘bump’. Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter – making the follow up interviews rather difficult. Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition. Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death.” (Syndetics summary)

Why mummy swears : the struggles of an exasperated mum / Gill Sims.
Syndetics book cover“Welcome to Mummy’s world… The Boy Child Peter is connected to his iPad by an umbilical cord, The Girl Child Jane is desperate to make her fortune as an Instagram lifestyle influencer, while Daddy is constantly off on exotic business trips… Mummy’s marriage is feeling the strain, her kids are running wild and the house is steadily developing a forest of mould. Mummy has also found herself a new challenge, working for a hot new tech start-up. But not only is she worrying if, at forty-two, she’s also somehow (accidentally) rebranded herself as a single party girl who works hard, plays hard and doesn’t have to run out when the nanny calls in sick. Can Mummy keep up the facade while keeping her family afloat? And, more importantly, can she find the time to pour herself a large G+T? Probably effing not.” (Syndetics summary)

Everything is lies / Helen Callaghan.
Syndetics book cover“Sophia’s parents have lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed. Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find her mother hanging from a tree in the garden. Her father lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death. The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. To clear her mother’s name Sophia needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there…” (Syndetics summary)

Kill the farm boy / Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
Syndetics book cover“Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born… there is a faraway kingdom…the land of Pell. There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death… and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar ‘happily ever after’ that ever once-upon-a-timed.” (Syndetics summary)

Wild fire / Ann Cleeves.
Syndetics book coverWild Fire is the eighth, and final book, in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Shetland series Shetland: Welcoming. Wild. Remote. Drawn in by the reputation of the islands, an English family move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life.But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire. With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate.” (Syndetics summary)

End game / David Baldacci.
Syndetics book cover“Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive. They’re the ones the government calls in when the utmost secrecy is required to take out those who plot violence and mass destruction against the United States. And through every mission, one man has always had their backs: their handler, code-named Blue Man. But now, Blue Man is missing. Last seen in rural Colorado, Blue Man had taken a rare vacation to go fly fishing in his hometown when he disappeared off the grid. With no communications since, the team can’t help but fear the worst.” (Syndetics summary)

The after wife / Cass Hunter.
Syndetics book cover“When Rachel and Aidan fell in love, they thought it was forever.
She was a brilliant, high-flying scientist. He was her loving and supportive husband. Now she’s gone, and Aidan must carry on and raise their daughter alone.
But Rachel has left behind her life’s work, a gift of love to see them through the dark days after her death…a gift called iRachel.
The After Wife is an emotional story about love, loss, longing and belonging.” (Syndetics summary)

All for nothing / Walter Kempowski ; translated from the German by Anthea Bell ; introduction by Jenny Erpenbeck.
Syndetics book cover“A wealthy family tries–and fails–to seal themselves off from the chaos of post-World War II life. The von Globig family’s manor house, the Georgenhof, is falling into disrepair. Auntie runs the estate as best she can since Eberhard von Globig, a special officer in the German army, went to war, leaving behind his beautiful but vague wife, Katharina, and her bookish twelve-year-old son, Peter. As the road fills with Germans fleeing the occupied territories, the Georgenhof begins to receive strange visitors–a Nazi violinist, a dissident painter, a Baltic baron, even a Jewish refugee. Yet in the main, life continues as banal, wondrous, and complicit as ever for the family, until their caution, their hedged bets, and their denial are answered by the wholly expected events they haven’t allowed themselves to imagine.” (Syndetics summary)

Sleeping beauties : a novel / Stephen King and Owen King.
Syndetics book cover“In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent. And while they sleep they go to another place, a better place, where harmony prevails and conflict is rare.
One woman, the mysterious “Eve Black,” is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Eve a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? ” (Syndetics summary)

Books on CD: a new lease on borrowing life!

The Origin audiobook cover

Audiobooks are free at Wellington Central Library! If you’re downloading or listening on CD there is no charge and the lending period for books on CD is still four weeks. We have collected all of the CD audiobooks at the Central Library and you can now find them at the end of the Fiction collection on the ground floor, just to the side of the Fiction Enquiries desk.

Books on CD are a curious phenomena in the story telling world- a whole book read to you as you choose to hear it! No USB port in your vehicle? Books on CD are great for a road trip, lengthy car trips become a time to enjoy a tale. A ten CD set can be devoured in one sitting, well you might need a comfort stop or three. Admittedly, there is the odd cringe at the delivery of the occasional narrator, but the variety of classic titles to newly published material, read by an array of performers means that there is plenty to choose from.

There are some great titles to borrow have look at some of our new acquisitions below:

Earthly remains / Leon, Donna
“During an interrogation Commissario Guido Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he will quickly come to regret. In the aftermath, he begins to doubt his career choices and realises that he needs a break. Granted leave from the Questura, Brunetti is shipped off to a villa on Sant’Erasmo- a place of rest, reflection, and reading. Then David Casati, the caretaker, goes missing after a storm, and Brunetti feels compelled to investigate.” (Catalogue)

Death of a ghost / Beaton, M. C
“When Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth hears reports of a haunted castle near Drim, he assumes the eerie noises and lights reported by the villagers are just local teenagers. Still, Hamish decides that he and his policeman, Charlie “Clumsy” Carson, will spend the night at the ruined castle to get to the bottom of the rumors once and for all. There’s no sign of any ghost… but a dead body propped against the wall. Something strange and deadly is going on at the castle, and Hamish must get to the bottom of it before the “ghost” can strike again…” (Catalogue)

The last Tudor / Gregory, Philippa
“The latest novel from Philippa Gregory features one of the most famous girls in history, Lady Jane Grey, and her two sisters, each of whom dared to defy her queen. At seventeen, Lady Jane Grey was England’s queen for nine days before Mary Tudor claimed the throne and had her executed. Jane’s younger sister, Katherine, was locked in the Tower of London by queens Mary and Elizabeth to prevent her producing a Tudor son. But the last Grey sister, a beautiful dwarf disregarded by the court, keeps her family’s secrets.” (Catalogue)

A legacy of spies / Le Carré, John
“Spymaster le Carré returns with his greatest creation, George Smiley. Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War.” (Catalogue)

The house of unexpected sisters / McCall Smith, Alexander
“Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi investigate a new mystery and learn valuable lessons about first impressions and forgiveness in this latest installment of this irresistibly charming series. Precious Ramotswe has always idolised her father, the late Obed Ramotswe. She feels that she knows all about his life, but does she? Sometimes our parents surprise us, and we discover that things were not quite what we thought them to be.” (Catalogue)

The terranauts / Boyle, T. Coraghessan
“It’s 1994, and in the Arizona desert a grand experiment is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the “Terranauts,” are to live under glass in a prototype of an off-earth colony. With humor and wit, T.C. Boyle inhabits the perspectives of the players in this survivalist game, illuminating the inherent fallibility of human nature.” (Catalogue)

Origin : a novel / Brown, Dan
“In keeping with his trademark style, Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code and Inferno, interweaves codes, science, religion, history, art, and architecture into this new novel. Origin thrusts Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon into the dangerous intersection of humankind’s two most enduring questions, and the earthshaking discovery that will answer them.” (Catalogue)

The woman in the window : a novel / Finn, A. J
“A twisty, powerful Hithcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house. Finn’s white-knuckler defines the term hot debut. Its heroine, the reclusive Anna Fox, hides away in her New York apartment tippling wine, watching old movies, and looking out the window, most recently at the husband, wife, and teenage son who just moved in across the way. Then she sees-or thinks she sees-something shocking, and what follows has wracked nerves enough to merit Gone Girl/Girl on the Train comparisons. (Catalogue)

Our most popular Fiction. Who’s reading what?

October is the season of book awards, with the Man Booker award and the Dagger awards from the Crime Writer’s Association. Also this year, in lieu of the Nobel for Literature, the librarians of Sweden had a hand in the New Academy for Literature. Selecting the author who has told the story of the “humans in the world”. Using a global open vote, the Laureate Maryse Conde from Gaudeloupe has been awarded top prize. Taking this idea to heart we have created a list of the most recent popular reads here at Wellington City Libraries, books are rated by number of issues across the system.

There are a few themes running through the most popular reads, the way World War II upturned the lives of many and how loss leads to new experiences. Wellington readers seem to love a well crafted thriller that keeps readers guessing as to motives and methods. One surprising entry is the Walking Dead series of graphic novels, which has proved to be hugely popular with our readers.

1. Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“The multi-award-winning author of The English Patient turns in a new novel both mysterious and dramatic, featuring 14-year-old Nathaniel and older sister Rachel, whose parents leave them in the care of a shadowy and possibly criminal individual called the Moth when they move to Singapore in 1945. The Moth’s friends, connected by wartime service, have lots to teach the siblings, who face more confusion when the siblings’ mother returns, mum about their father. In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire.”(Catalogue)

2. The walking dead. Compendium one / Kirkman, Robert
“The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibilty. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled, no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living”(Catalogue)

3. The woman in the window / Finn, A. J
“It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside. Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours, the Russels are a picture-perfect family of three. But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?” (Catalogue)

4. Careless love / Robinson, Peter
“A young, local student has apparently committed suicide. Her body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn’t own a car. Didn’t even drive. How did she get there? Where did she die? Who moved her, and why? As the inconsistencies multiply and the mysteries proliferate, Annie’s father’s new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. This is someone who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what he wants–and suddenly the stakes are raised and the hunt is on.” (Catalogue)

5. The other wife / Robotham, Michael
“Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong. This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?” (Catalogue)

6. Transcription / Atkinson, Kate
“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.” (Catalogue)

7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Shaffer, Mary Ann
“In January 1946, London is beginning to recover from World War II, and Juliet Ashton is looking for a subject for her next book. She spent the war years writing a column for the Times until her own dear flat became a victim of a German bomb. While sifting through the rubble and reconstructing her life, she receives a letter from a man on Guernsey, the British island occupied by the Germans. So begins a correspondence that draws Juliet into the community of Guernsey and the members of the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Named to protect its members from arrest by the Germans, the society shares their unique love of literature and life with a newfound friend. Seeing this as the subject of her next book, Juliet sails to Guernsey, a voyage that will change her life” (Catalogue)

8. Clock dance / Tyler, Anne
“Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory, surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places. (Catalogue)

9. Pieces of her / Slaughter, Karin
“Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we? But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again. (Catalogue)

10. The midnight line / Child, Lee
“Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. Why not? So begins a harrowing journey that takes Reacher through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere, encountering bikers, cops, crooks, muscle, and a missing persons PI who wears a suit and a tie in the Wyoming wilderness.” (Catalogue)

Golden Age of Crime

A Different Kind of Evil cover

In 1930’s Britain an eclectic group of authors banded together to form The Detection Club. Some of the participants included Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, G K Chesterton and A A Milne. The members were all known for their literary excellence and were not shy of mining the darker side of human conduct. They wrote tales of mystery that have enthralled their audience from publication to current times. Their club oath defines what would become the style of the ‘Golden Age of Crime’:

To do and detect all crimes by fair and reasonable means; to conceal no vital clues from the reader; to honour the King’s English… and to observe the oath of secrecy in all matters communicated to me within the brotherhood of the club”

The gentle tropes perfected by the Golden Age writers has been reprised and honoured by modern authors using both style and characters. Referencing Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926, Andrew Wilson presents the ‘Dame of crime’ with mysteries of her own. Private detective Hercule Poirot is revived through the work of Sophie Hannah. Below are some classic titles and some new works that reference the style of the era:

Murder on the Orient Express / Christie, Agatha
“Agatha Christie’s most famous murder mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.” (Catalogue)

 

The complete Father Brown stories / Chesterton, G. K.
“Father Brown, one of the most quirkily genial and lovable characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made his appearance in The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911. That first collection of stories established G.K. Chesterton’s kindly cleric in the front rank of eccentric sleuths. This complete collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories, showing a quiet wit and compassion that has endeared him to many, whilst solving his mysteries by a mixture of imagination and a sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner.” (Catalogue)

Party girls die in pearls / Sykes, Plum
“Not rich and not glamorous, Oxford outsider Ursula Flowerbutton wants only to be left to her studies. But when she finds a classmate with her throat slashed, she’s quick to investigate. Determined to unravel the case and bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell Ursula enlists the help of her fellow Fresher, the glamorous American Nancy Feingold. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloanes, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent.” (adapted from Catalogue)

A different kind of evil / Wilson, Andrew
“In January 1927 Agatha Christie sets sail on an ocean liner bound for the Canary Islands. She has been sent there by the British Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the death of one of its agents, whose partly mummified body has been found in a cave. Early one morning, on the passage to Tenerife, Agatha witnesses a woman throw herself from the ship into the sea. At first, nobody connects the murder of the young man on Tenerife with the suicide of a mentally unstable heiress. Yet, soon after she checks into the glamorous Taoro Hotel situated in the lush Orotava Valley, Agatha uncovers a series of dark secret” (Catalogue)

The mystery of three quarters : the new Hercule Poirot mystery / Hannah, Sophie
“The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket-returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930’s London. Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.” (Catalogue)

An act of villainy / Weaver, Ashley
“A gem filled with style, banter, and twists that traditional mystery fans will positively relish. With husband Milo, Amory Ames glides through 1930s London to the dress rehearsal of a new play directed by friend Gerard Holloway. Unfortunately, Gerard has cast his mistress, Flora Bell, in the lead (Amory is friends with his wife), and he wants her to figure out who’s sending threatening letters to Flora. Curtains up for another charmer from Louisiana librarian Weaver.” (Catalogue)

Four funerals and maybe a wedding / Bowen, Rhys
“Star amateur sleuth of the 1930s-set Royal Spyness Mystery series, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is getting ready to walk down the aisle and is offered her godfather’s fully staffed country estate as a home. But the staff don’t seem very trustworthy, and the gas leak in her bedroom doesn’t seem like an accident.” (Catalogue)

 

Advance recommendations for great new fiction titles

Rosewater book cover

There are lots of new titles coming in from talented authors in the next few months. That means getting in quick if you want you be reading them soon!

Our advance recommendations for up and coming titles include crime writing and thrillers; titles where political and social values are explored and Science Fiction and fantasy works were the possibilities of the mind and potential realities are explored.

Excitement has been building for the new Haruki Murakami book titled Killing Commendatore which  is due to published 9 October 2018. The new novel, written in homage to the The Great Gatsby, has already been censored in Hong Kong. Opaque wrappers are required wherever the book is for sale or loan, libraries there will only allow borrowing to patrons over 18 years of age.

Already on our library shelves  is the new Kate Atkinson novel, Transcription, along with Belinda Bauer’s Snap. Yet to be published, Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver brings together two timelines  in the same location and  focuses on families facing challenges due to changing cultures. Kingsolver’s deft handling of family dynamics and the impacts of change bring this tale to life. Mohammed Hanif delivers two sides to modern conflict with Red Birds. Three times Hugo winner Science Fiction writer N K Jemisin has a new short story collection called How long ’til black future month? which delivers a kaleidoscopic view of her imagination.  Tade Thompson’s  Rosewater, is named after a town, grown up around an alien entity embedded in Nigerian soil. Once a year the biodome surrounding the incomer opens…

See below, for these and more titles, coming soon to a library near you!

Transcription / Atkinson, Kate
“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.” (Catalogue)

Love is Blind [paperback] / Boyd, William
Love is Blind is a tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away. At once an intimate portrait of one man’s life and an expansive exploration of the beginning of the 20th century, Love is Blind is a masterly new novel from one of Britain’s best loved storytellers.” (Catalogue)

 

Killing Commendatore / Murakami, Haruki/ Gabriel, Philip (TRN)/ Goossen, Ted (TRN)
“The much-anticipated new novel from the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of 1Q84 and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Killing Commendatore is an epic tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art–as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby–and a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.” (Catalogue)

 

Bridge of clay. / Zusak, Markus
Bridge of Clay is about a boy who is caught in the current – of destroying everything he has, to become all he needs to be. He’s a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for memory and tragedy. He builds a bridge to save his family, but also to save himself. It’s an attempt to transcend humanness, to make a single, glorious moment: A miracle and nothing less.” (Catalogue)

 

Red Birds [paperback] / Hanif, Mohammed
“Written with his trademark wit, keen eye for absurdity and telling important truths about the world today, Red Birds reveals master storyteller Mohammed Hanif at the height of his powers.
An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb.  In the camp, teenager Momo’s money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other’s throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind.” (Catalogue)

Unsheltered / Kingsolver, Barbara
“Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred–whether family or friends–and in the strength of the human spirit.” (Catalogue)

Snap / Bauer, Belinda
“On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. “Jack’s in charge,” she’d said. “I won’t be long”. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.” (Catalogue)

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, 1) [paperback] / Thompson, Tade
“Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, coming to a realization about a horrifying future.” (Catalogue)

How Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories [paperback] / Jemisin, N K
“In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises.” (Catalogue)

Lethal White / Galbraith, Robert
“When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story.  Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside. ” (Catalogue)

In a House of Lies / Rankin, Ian
“A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods.  Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case.  Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

Sometimes reading gives you those “I can’t believe they did that!” moments, when an author turns around a plot or a character arc, or kills off the last person you expected!  Sometimes you get an “I see what they did there” when writing unexpectedly speaks directly to your own life experience. Sometimes you want to tell someone about it…

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

The surrogate / Jensen, Louise
“Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream. But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets. And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye. As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was a really good psychological thriller with a good twist at the end.  Overall would recommend it to other fans of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Couple Next Door, etc.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5 stars)

Stick together / Hénaff, Sophie
“After their successful solving of three cold cases and exposing corruption at the very highest level of the Paris police force, Anne Capestan’s squad of misfits and no-hopers should be in a celebratory mood. However, now despised by their colleagues at 36 quai des Orfevres and worried for their future, morale has never been lower among the members of the Awkward Squad. Capestan does her best to motivate her troops, but even she cannot maintain a cheerful facade when she has to investigate the murder of Commissaire Serge Rufus, the father of her ex-husband.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was entertaining and well written with characters that were unusual enough to be memorable.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

A dangerous crossing / Khan, Ausma Zehanat
” For Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty, the Syrian refugee crisis is about to become personal. Esa’s childhood friend, Nathan Clare, calls him in distress: his sister, Audrey, has vanished from a Greek island where the siblings run an NGO. Audrey had been working to fast-track refugees to Canada, but now, she is implicated in the double-murder of a French Interpol agent and a young man who had fled the devastation in Syria.” (Catalogue)

“The murders are incidental to the main (or more important) story – that of life as a refugee in a Greek refugee camp.  It is written from an outsider’s perspective, but I almost felt I was in the camp at times…” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

The girl in the moon / Goodkind, Terry
Angela juggles multiple jobs to live a secluded life in a cabin in the mountains. But she also lives a secret life, right under everyone’s noses. Because her family’s bloodline carries the ability to recognize killers, she adopts a solitary, violent existence in service of her own, personal mission in life. When Angela unexpectedly finds herself the prey of a group of international terrorists, she is the only one who knows the truth of what they are about to do. She might look like an unlikely hero. She might also be our only hope.” (Catalogue)

“Fantastic. I will definitely read other books written by this author. I hope this author writes further in the series with the lead female, Angels Constantine.” (no star rating given)

I am watching you / Driscoll, Teresa
“A missing girl. A tormented witness. A web of lies. And someone is watching… When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it – until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls – beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard – has disappeared. A year later, Anna is still missing. Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night – and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own. Someone knows where Anna is – and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ells.”  (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was an excellent read. A great story that kept me glued.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 star rating)

Creative Cozy Crime

   

The classic form of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple is echoed in these crime novels.  A perplexing problem to be untangled by an engaging sleuth.  These titles feature a variety of themes from crafty crime with knitters and quilters to culinary crime featuring caterers and chocolate lovers. The settings range from vineyards to seaside villages to captivate the audience and the plot draws the reader along with the detective in question, from bookshop owner to cat detective to knitting group.

If you enjoy our Cozy Crime Collection why not try exploring cozy mysteries titles in our eBook and eAudio collection through Overdrive.

Wellington City Libraries has a great range of these authors and titles, with recent additions in established series and some newly discovered authors adding a fresh voice to this Mysteries sub genre.

Murder wears mittens / Goldenbaum, Sally
“As autumn washes over coastal Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters anticipate a relaxing off-season. The knitters intend to facilitate a family reunion, not investigate a crime. But the death of Dolores Cardozo, a recluse from the edge of town, throws the group for a loop. Especially when the missing mother and one of their own become tied to the victim’s hidden fortune and her murder . . .(Adapted from Catalogue)

The cat sitter and the canary / Clement, Blaize
“Set in the lush and beautiful island of Siesta Key, with a cast of characters that Dixie fans the world over have come to know and love, The Cat Sitter and the Canary is the latest book by Blaize and her son John Clement. A delightful addition to this critically acclaimed series, The Cat Sitter and the Canary is sure to leave both mystery fans and cat lovers alike purring with delight.” (Catalogue)

A catered costume party : a mystery with recipes / Crawford, Isis
“When sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons agree to cater an extravagant Halloween party in their little upstate New York town of Longely, they figured a ghost or two and a blood curdling scream might be part of the menu, but they never expected to be haunted by the deadly specter of murder . . . Was it suicide, induced by despair over his missing spouse? Bernie and Libby think not, once they read the note he left–which includes a sum of money and a request for them to “do something” if anything should happen to him. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Toucan keep a secret / Andrews, Donna
“Meg Langslow is at Trinity Episcopal locking up after an event and checking on the toucan Meg’s friend Rev. Robyn Smith is fostering in her office. After hearing a hammering in the columbarium, Meg finds an elderly parishioner lying dead on the floor of the crypt. Several niches have been chiseled open; several urns knocked out; and amid the spilled ashes is a gold ring with a huge red stone. The curmudgeonly victim had become disgruntled with the church and ranted all over town about taking back his wife’s ashes. Did someone who had it in for him follow him to the columbarium? Why was the ruby left behind?”(Catalogue)

The Cracked Spine / Shelton, Paige
No one was more surprised than Delaney Nichols when she packed her bags and moved halfway across the world to Edinburgh, Scotland to start a job at The Cracked Spine, a bookshop located in the heart of the city. Her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime, and Delaney can’t wait to take her spot behind the desk. But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact goes missing, and Edwin’s sister is brutally murdered. Never did Delaney think that searching for things lost could mean a killer, but if she’s to keep her job, and protect her new friends, she’ll need to learn the truth behind this Scottish tragedy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Probable claws / Brown, Rita Mae
“Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen and her friends and animal companions pursue the threads of a mystery dating back to Virginia’s post-Revolutionary past, when their 18th-century predecessors struggled with the challenges of the fledgling country. In the present day, Harry’s new friendship with Marvella Lawson, doyenne of the Richmond art world, leads her to rediscover her own creative passions–and reveals evidence of an all too contemporary crime.” (Catalogue)

Revenge of the crafty corpse / Winston, Lois
“Anastasia Pollack’s dead louse of a spouse has left her with more bills than you can shake a crochet hook at, and teaching craft classes at her mother-in-law’s assisted living center seems like a harmless way to supplement her meager income. But when Lyndella Wegner, a 98-year-old know-it-all with a penchant for ruffles and lace is murdered, Anastasia’s cantankerous mother-in-law becomes the prime suspect. Upon discovering that Lyndella’s X-rated craft projects, and her scandalous behaviormade her plenty of enemies, Anastasia sets out to find the real killer before her mother-in-law ends up behind bars.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

X marks the Scot / Dunnett, Kaitlyn
“After she hires an archivist to help her research a treasure map that she found at the Chadwick estate in Moosetookalook, Maine, Scottish Emporium owner Lisa MacCrimmon is horrified when the archivist is murdered, and takes it upon herself to find the killer.” (Catalogue)

Bloodroot : a Martha’s Vineyard mystery / Riggs, Cynthia
“It’s just another day at the dentist’s office for Victoria Trumbull when fellow patient, wealthy Mrs. Wilmington, dies. It’s an unfortunate, though seemingly not murderous incident, but the receptionist is hysterical, so one of the dental assistants offers to drive her home. But after making a quick pit stop, he finds her body floating in the harbor. With the police shorthanded due to an upcoming presidential visit, it’s up to Victoria to take on the case. As she wrestles with her ex-son-in-law, a $3 million will, and a deadly dental clinic, Mrs. Trumbull discovers that nothing in the case is quite what it seems.” (Catalogue)