Villains we love to hate

I’m not a monster – I’m just ahead of the curve.

-The Joker

That uncomfortable sensation when you find yourself enjoying everything your fictional villain does. Well maybe not everything.  Fiction abounds with a wealth of antiheroes, all the way back to Beowulf where you might find yourself sympathising with a monster. A recent treatment of that story in The mere wife does provoke thoughts of who we think of as monstrous. Obsession is not always an undoing, Moriarty’s mind games elevate both Sherlock Holmes and the readers’ experience. The glamour of the high life, with it’s ego stroking attributes is the aim for many, but what if no obstacle, moral or otherwise would deter you, enter Tom Ripley, designed by Patricia Highsmith. Or Dexter, a sociopath with a mission, tempering his murderous endgame with rules. 

Those who transgress for personal gain abound in the selection of titles below, chilling to think that these are librarian’s favourites! Classic characters are reprised in graphic novel form and delving into our electronic vault will locate the original inspiration. Recent additions to our catalogue will entertain while making you cringe and maybe provide a wry smile of recognition.  Enjoy!

Overdrive cover Parker: The Outfit, Donald E. Westlake (ebook)… Villain: Parker
Cooke is back and following up the New York Times best-selling Hunter with a heart-pounding sequel: The Outfit. After evening the score with those who betrayed him, and recovering the money he was cheated out of from the syndicate, Parker is riding high, living in swank hotels and enjoying the finer things in life again. Until, that is, he’s fingered by a squealer who rats him out to the Outfit for the price they put on his head… and they find out too late that if you push Parker, it better be all the way into the grave! (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Dirty Money, Richard Stark (Audiobook) Villain: Parker (so professional he gets 2 titles)
Master criminal Parker takes another turn for the worse as he tries to recover loot from a heist gone terribly wrong. Parker and two cohorts stole the assets of a bank in transit, but the police heat was so great they could only escape if they left the money behind. Now Parker and his associates plot to reclaim the loot, which they hid in the choir loft of an unused country church. As they implement the plan, people on both sides of the law use the forces at their command to stop Parker and grab the goods for themselves.Parker will do whatever it takes to redeem his prize, no matter who gets hurt in the process. (Overdrive description)

Gone girl / Flynn, Gillian (print), (DVD) Villain: … not giving it away
“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors… the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.  Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Codename Villanelle / Jennings, Luke  Villain… toss a coin
She is the perfect assassin. A Russian orphan, saved from the death penalty for the brutal revenge she took on her gangster father’s killers. Ruthlessly trained. Given a new life. New names, new faces – whichever fits. Her paymasters call themselves The Twelve. But she knows nothing of them. Konstantin is the man who saved her, and the one she answers to. She is Villanelle. Without conscience. Without guilt. Without weakness. Eve Polastri is the woman who hunts her. MI5, until one error of judgment costs her everything. Then stopping a ruthless assassin becomes more than her job. It becomes personal. ” (Catalogue)

Use of weapons / Banks, Iain Villain: Elethiomel
“The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances’ foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action. The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought. The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman’s life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past…” (Catalogue)

Charcoal Joe : an Easy Rawlins mystery / Mosley, Walter Villain: Mouse
“Picking up where his last adventures in Rose Gold left off in L.A. in the late 1960s, Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins has started a new detective agency. Easy’s friend Mouse introduces him to Rufus Tyler, a very old man everyone calls Charcoal Joe. Joe’s friend’s son, Seymour (young, bright, top of his class in physics at Stanford), has been arrested and charged with the murder of a white man from Redondo Beach. Joe tells Easy he will pay and pay well to see this young man exonerated, but seeing as how Seymour literally was found standing over the man’s dead body at his cabin home, and considering the racially charged motives seemingly behind the murder, that might prove to be a tall order.” (Catalogue)

Ripley’s game / Highsmith, Patricia Villain: Ripley
“With its sinister humor and genius plotting, Ripley’s Game is an enduring portrait of a compulsive, sociopathic American antihero. Tom Ripley detested murder, unless it was absolutely necessary. If possible, he preferred someone else to do the dirty work. In this case, a victim of a fatal disease, who will murder for a reward in order to provide for his young widow and child.” (Catalogue)

 

The doll factory / Macneal, Elizabeth Villain: Silas
“London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning. When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love. But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (Audiobook) Villain: Mrs Danvers
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives—presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century. “(Overdrive description)

Thriller talent revival: fights, intrigue, action!

Dire consequences and sweet rewards–welcome to our latest crop of thrillers!

With its landlines and lack of internet, Domino Island by Desmond Bagley may encapsulate 1972, but its political tension is as fresh and relevant as the day it was written. This previously unpublished title was long considered lost, and its reappearance after 40 years has reinvigorated the genre with its craftsmanship, authenticity and expertise. Domino Island was curated by Michael Davies, taking the 1972 typewritten pencil annotated first draft into completion.

Legal loopholes, terrifying coincidence and deadly subterfuge run through the rest of this month’s thriller picks, with deadly foes and locations that will seize your imagination. You’ve been warned!

Domino Island / Bagley, Desmond (print), (eBook)
“Bill Kemp, an ex-serviceman working in London as an insurance investigator, is sent to the Caribbean to verify a claim that will make property magnate David Salton’s young widow a very rich lady. Salton’s political ambitions had made him a lot of enemies, and that his friends are reluctant to reveal themselves, local tensions around the forthcoming elections spill over into protest and violence on the streets – and murder.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Assassin’s silence / Larsen, Ward (print), (eBook)
“When it comes to disappearing, David Slaton has few equals. Police in three countries have written off trying to find him. So when an assault team strikes, Slaton is taken by surprise. He kills one man and manages to escape. Half a world away, an obscure air cargo company purchases a derelict airliner. On the first flight, the jet plunges toward the ocean. The CIA assesses the two spectacles: a practiced killer leaving a trail of bodies across Europe, and a large airplane disappearing without a trace. The two affairs are increasingly seen to be intertwined . . .” (Adapted from catalogue)

Unsolved / Patterson, James
“FBI agent Emmy Dockery is relentless. She’s young and driven, and her unique skill at seeing connections others miss has brought her an impressive string of arrests. But a shocking new case-unfolding across the country-has left her baffled. The victims all appear to have died by accident, and have seemingly nothing in common. But this many deaths can’t be coincidence. The killer is somehow one step ahead of every move Dockery makes. How?” (Adapted from catalogue)

The 45th / Buffa, Dudley W.
“What if a political party in disarray turned to a man to lead them with no political background? What if a country torn apart by ideology turned to a man whose charisma belied a complete lack of governing experience? What if a country elected a President based not on qualifications, but on hope? Would this man lead the country into a new era of fortune and prosperity? Or would he lead them into total and complete chaos?” (Adapted from catalogue)

Warning light / Ricciardi, David
“When a commercial aircraft makes an emergency landing at an Iranian military base, it looks like a crisis has been narrowly avoided. But for undercover intelligence analyst Zac Miller, the CIA-staged crash landing is the only part of his assignment that goes right. What was supposed to be a surveillance mission quickly heads south when the Iranians apprehend the smooth-talking American. Zac’s in over his head, especially when it turns out escaping from captivity is only the beginning of his problems . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The never game / Deaver, Jeffery
“Colter Shaw is an itinerate ‘reward-seeker,’ traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. When he learns of a reward for a missing college student in Silicon Valley, he takes the job. The investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of Silicon Valley and the cutthroat billion-dollar video gaming industry, then a second kidnapping happens . . . and this victim turns up dead.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The substitution order / Clark, Martin
“Kevin Moore, once a high-flying Virginia attorney, lands in the middle of nowhere with a job at the world’s saddest sandwich shop. His closest confidants: a rambunctious rescue puppy and the 20-year-old computer whiz manning the restaurant counter. When a mysterious stranger wanders into the shop armed with a threatening “invitation” to join a multimillion-dollar scam, Kevin will need every bit of his legal savvy just to stay out of prison.” (Adapted from catalogue)

 

The latest fiction from the Zambezi river to Graceland

This autumn find a great new read from the libraries latest acquisitions.  Indulge in romance, challenging assumptions, voyage through family sagas or prepare for a gripping ride with an unexpectedly disconcerting thriller these tales from new and experienced adept authors have something for everyone.

Queenie / Carty-Williams, Candice
“Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?” All of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.” (Catalogue)

Schoolgirl missing / Fortin, Sue (eBook) (eAudiobook) (print)
“A gripping portrayal of a family caught on the wrong side of the law. When fourteen-year-old Poppy vanishes on a family boating trip, suspicion soon turns close to home – to the two people who should do everything to keep her safe, her parents, Kit and Neve.
Neve has a secret. Kit is lying. Everyone is watching. Who do you believe? (Catalogue)

 

Syndetics book coverThe parade : a novel / Dave Eggers.The Parade: A Novel
“An unnamed country is leaving the darkness of a decade at war, and to commemorate the armistice the government commissions a new road connecting two halves of the state. Two men, foreign contractors from the same company, are sent to finish the highway. While one is flighty and adventurous, wanting to experience the nightlife and people, the other wants only to do the work and go home. But both men must eventually face the absurdities of their positions, and the dire consequences of their presence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKaddish.com / Nathan Englander.
“Larry is the secular son in a family of Orthodox Brooklyn Jews. When his father dies, it’s his responsibility to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, every day for eleven months. To the horror and dismay of his sister, Larry refuses, imperiling the fate of his father’s soul. To appease her, Larry hatches an ingenious if cynical plan, hiring a stranger through a website called kaddish.com to recite the prayer and shepherd his father’s soul safely to rest.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMemories of the future : a novel / Siri Hustvedt.
Memories of the Future tells the story of a young Midwestern woman’s first year in New York City in the late 1970s.  S.H., aka “Minnesota,” transcribes her neighbor’s bizarre and increasingly ominous monologues in a notebook. One frightening night Lucy bursts into her apartment on a rescue mission. Forty years later, S.H., now a veteran author, discovers her old notebook while moving her aging mother from one facility to another.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLost children archive / Valeria Luiselli.
“Suppose you and Pa were gone, and we were lost. What would happen then? A family in New York packs the car and sets out on a road trip. A mother, a father, a boy and a girl, they head south west, to the Apacheria, the regions of the US which used to be Mexico. Meanwhile, thousands of children are journeying north, travelling to the US border from Central America and Mexico. A grandmother or aunt has packed a backpack for them, putting in a bible, one toy, some clean underwear. They have been met by a coyote: a man who speaks to them roughly. They cross a river on rubber tubing and walk for days. Then they climb to the top of a train and travel precariously in the open container on top. In a breath-taking feat of literary virtuosity, Lost Children Archive intertwines these two journeys to create a masterful novel.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe old drift : a novel / Namwali Serpell.The Old Drift: A Novel
“1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there is a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. In a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families (black, white, brown) as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGraceland / Bethan Roberts.
“What happens when your only son becomes The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll? From the moment she first holds him, after his twin brother is stillborn, Gladys Presley loves her son Elvis ferociously. And he will love her back, even as his heart is turned by the blues, clothes and girls. But while he makes it big in Hollywood, brings audiences across the land to their knees and achieves unimagined wealth and fame, there is another story – of drinking and diet pills, loneliness and loss. While the heat and music of the American South in the 40s and 50s play in the background, a heartbreaking portrait of a mother’s love and a son’s devotion takes centre stage. When Elvis reaches the height of his power, he buys his family the ultimate mansion on the hill, Graceland, where he hopes his mother will be happy. The reality, though, is very different, and Elvis finds that even kings must go on alone.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Readers Choice fiction selections

Reviews from library patrons are a great way to find out what people have loved reading from the new additions to the fiction collection. 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.

Here are some recent reviews featuring an interesting mix of subjects and genres: mysteries, historical novels, science fiction, humour, psychological fiction, thrillers and New Zealand environmental activism.

The changeling : a novel / LaValle, Victor D.Book Jacket for: The changeling : a novel
“This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most. It’s a thrilling and emotionally devastating journey through the gruesome legacies that threaten to devour us and the homely, messy magic that saves us, if we’re lucky.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent. An unusual voice, but marvellous blend of modernity and fairy-tale, with powerful themes and insight.  Very Satisfying.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Stranded

Stranded / MacLeod, Bracken
“Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was suspenseful, gripping and well researched. Doesn’t lean on the numerous clichés of the horror genre which makes it so engaging.  A great read!” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Hanna who fell from the skyHanna who fell from the sky / Meades, Christopher
“With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world–and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “What a well written novel, thoroughly enjoyed it, well worth reading. Never read any of Meades novels before would love to read more of his material.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: The last hoursThe last hours / Walters, Minette
“When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is or how it spreads and kills so quickly.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Well written, engaging, couldn’t put down – read all night. Can’t wait for the sequel this year.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: EurekaEureka / Quinn, Anthony
“Summer, 1967. As London shimmers in a heat haze and swoons to the sound of Sergeant Pepper, a mystery film – Eureka – is being shot by German wunderkind Reiner Kloss. The screenwriter, Nat Fane, would do anything for a hit but can’t see straight for all the acid he’s dropping.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Was an enjoyable read, especially in it’s evocation of London in the ‘swinging sixties’.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: KrusoKruso / Seiler, Lutz
“It is 1989, and a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. Long shrouded in myth, the island is a notorious destination for hippies, idealists, and those at odds with the East German state.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was compelling.  Via fantasy and fact Seiler deftly weaves a story about East German idealists, refugees and escapists told through the perspective of a challenged young man” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eye of the songbird / Munro, Michael
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world’s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land, Antarctica?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A highly relevant New Zealand thriller with it’s plot centred on one of the big issues of the day; climate change.  Highly recommended” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The miranda : a novel / Nicholson, G. J.
“The Miranda is at turns a biting satire about the secrets we keep from our neighbors, and about the invisible and unceasing state of war in which most Westerners unconsciously live.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was like a Coen Brothers movie: darkly satirical. The detachment of the protagonist is key to this novel – he was a psychologist turned government agent training operatives to withstand torture. He is not disaffected, quite the reverse, but he is clinical , perceptive and interesting. A good dark read.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐