Friday, May 27, 2016

Time travel sitcoms & reading as a gateway drug: a 9mm interview with Michael Grothaus

This time last week I was enjoying all there was to offer in Bristol as I attended Crimefest: a superb four-day event that without a doubt has grown into one of the premier crime fiction gatherings in the world each year.

I've been lucky enough to attend the past two Crimefests (last year I'd only just arrived back in the UK from New Zealand, so was a little jet-lagged), and each has been a great experience. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who lives in the UK, and it would also be worth a longer trip for any crime writers and others passionate about the genre from further afield.

This year there were authors from North and South America, Africa, and Australasia, as well as the UK and Europe. Hopefully I can encourage a few New Zealand authors to head along in future years: there's definitely an appetite from attendees to learn about new-to-them crime writers from all over the world. It's a great event where writers, readers, and others in the book industry can all connect over our shared love of great crime writing, and have a good time.

One of the new-to-me authors I was very glad to meet this year is Michael Grothaus, an American who now lives in London and who has already received some big raps for his edgy crime debut EPIPHANY JONES. The book was name-dropped by some Crimefest panelists as a 'must read', and it certainly sounds unique and intriguing:
Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

While we were at Crimefest, I took the opportunity to have a sit-down interview with Michael Grothaus - he was such an interesting guy that what is often a five to ten-minute 9mm interview ended up going on for almost an hour. We kept going off track, having so much fun chatting about everything from sports movies and being foreign journalists in the UK to the beauty of travel, blending humour and darkness in crime writing in books and onscreen, and the Capela dos Ossos (a 16th century chapel of bones in the tiny mountain village of Evora in Portugal).

Today, I'm very pleased to be able to welcome Michael Grothaus here to Crime Watch as the 149th crime writer to stare down the barrel of 9mm. Enjoy!


Michael Grothaus (left) and myself at
Crimefest Bristol. CREDIT: Ali Karim
9MM: AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL GROTHAUS

Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
It’s so generic, the most generic thing in the world, but I love Sherlock Holmes. We had this television channel growing up that only showed black and white movies, and I saw Hound of the Baskervilles. It was unlike anything I’d seen before... just so interesting and atmospheric. I read the books later and they are a bit different, but I loved the character. The movies got me into the books, and into reading [in general] – it was like a gateway drug.

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
When I was 13 I read STEPPENWOLF by Hermann Hesse, a German writer – it’s about an older man who has lost faith in society and religion, he’s very disillusioned, and goes to a dingy bar and meets a woman. It’s all about seeing a more unusual view of the world, about magical realism, what’s real and what’s false. He later won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
My first degree is in film, so I wrote a sitcom called “Time Kid”, about a kid from the 22nd century who comes back to our time on a class field trip, and gets left behind. It was optioned by Disney but never made. I’m now a journalist and write about a lot of crazy stuff. EPIPHANY JONES is my first attempt at a novel.

Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I love to travel. I travel by myself most of the time. I like going to countries where I have no hope of speaking the language. It’s nice when I go to Tokyo and can’t read all the adverts and billboards. It grounds you somewhat. I love Portugal – I lived in Porto for six months, and sometimes I spend a month at a time in Lisbon.

What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
My hometown is St Louis, so I don’t really know how much there is to do... oh, there’s a great neighbourhood in the city known as “The Hill” to locals, and during the 1930s-1940s when shit was going crazy in Europe a lot of Italians moved there. It’s like a Little Italy. You can go there and people still speak Italian, there’s amazing Italian food. It’s not a tourist area, but it’s an interesting place.

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Probably someone like Mark Ruffalo; he’s not too much of a tough guy, and he can act like a bit of a dick.

Of your writings, which is your favourite, and why?
Besides my novel, which I am very proud of, when I was at film school I wrote to a magazine called “Screen” who report on the Chicago movie industry. I wrote a piece on a Foley Artist (the people who make sound effects for movies), and I got a voice mail from the editor saying they’d read my article, that I could really write and they were going to publish it. It was definitely not my best story, but it was the first time anyone has acknowledged I was a good writer, and that made me feel really good. I remember interviewing the Foley Artist and my voice was shaking, I’d felt like an imposter, not a real journalist. So it was great to get that feedback – I wish I’d recorded that voice mail.

What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
The first time I learned EPIPHANY JONES was going to be published was actually a bit of agony, because I heard it was going to be published, but I didn’t have a signed contract - so I didn’t want to talk about it or jinx it. I went to Japan with two friends who asked how the novel was going, and I couldn’t tell them. Later when the contract was signed it was more relief than excitement.

What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Well I haven’t done many events yet, but the ebook came out two months ago and I had two ex-girlfriends contact me asking, “um, is the girl based on me?” And I was like “No, and you broke my heart, goodbye” (laughing). It’s funny how if you write something people will read into it and see different things.



Thank you Michael. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch. 

You can read more about Michael Grothaus and his writing at his website here. You can watch a short video about Michael's inspiration for his debut thriller, EPIPHANY JONES, here

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: A STRAITS SETTLEMENT

A STRAITS SETTLEMENT by Brian Stoddart (Crime Wave Press, 2016)

Reviewed by Karen Chisholm

In the third installment of the Le Fanu Mystery series, the intrepid superintendent is promoted to Inspector-General of Police in 1920s Madras, which proves to be more boring than he had envisaged. Instead of pushing papers across his desk, Le Fanu focuses on the disappearance of a senior Indian Civil Service officer and an apparently unrelated murder. As the two incidents intertwine, the world-weary detective is drawn into the worlds of indentured labour recruitment and antiquities theft.

The Le Fanu series from author Brian Stoddart is one of those extremely elegant combinations of mystery fiction and historical lesson that also provides entertainment for readers. There's even a bit of good old fashioned romance from the male point of view. In short, there's something for all readers within these pages.

The third book, A STRAITS SETTLEMENT sees Le Fanu promoted above his desired wishes to acting Inspector-General, buried in paperwork and oddly behaving subordinate officers, increasingly desperate to resolve his ongoing faltering love affair with a local Anglo-Indian woman. It's not surprising that this reluctant bureaucrat seizes the opportunity to get back into some proper investigating work when a senior Civil Service member goes missing, and a seemingly unrelated murder occurs.

The sense of place and time in this series is absolutely pitch perfect - using as always something from the time as an element of the crime - in this case highly suspect indentured labour recruitment, people smuggling and antiquities theft. Always though, the ongoing question of British rule in India and the bubbling pressure for independence forms the backdrop, with elements of the struggle between colonial thinking and posturing and the reality of day to day life for the people cleverly incorporated. Le Fanu is the point of difference in the Colonial powers, and in the day to day society, with the manner in which he runs his household, his love affairs and his interactions with the locals. Even his food choices are not what the Colonial powers would approve of.

The manner in which Stoddart writes these books is pitch perfect. The historical elements, the factual tidbits, are built into the narrative in a way that lets the reader learn a lot and experience what it must have been like in that part of the world at that time. The mystery elements remain to the forefront and the personal bits and pieces are dotted throughout creating a character with depth. Le Fanu is not just a totally believable character he's nicely vulnerable, complicated and extremely easy to connect with. A series that really hasn't put a foot wrong, A STRAITS SETTLEMENT pushes the story of Le Fanu, his life and his future forward, setting up some major changes for the next book. Really looking forward to that.

Karen Chisholm is one of Australia's leading crime reviewers. She created Aust Crime Fiction in 2006, a terrific resource. Karen also reviews for Newtown Review of Books, and is a Judge of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and the Ned Kelly Awards. She kindly shares her reviews of crime and thriller novels written by New Zealanders on Crime Watch as well as on Aust Crime Fiction

Thursday, May 19, 2016

9mm interview: Tim Baker

Today is a very exciting day as I'm hopping on a train from Paddington to Bristol to spend four days at Crimefest, a terrific festival that brings together dozens of great authors and hundreds of readers and others who enjoy the genre. I had a terrific time in Bristol last year, even though I was jet-lagged from a long flight back from New Zealand - the organisers do a great job, there's an excellent vibe, and it's a wonderful opportunity to mix with others who love great crime writing, and discover some new authors.

Before I head out the door to catch the train, however, I thought I'd share with you my recent interview with one of those new-to-me authors who'll be in attendance this year: Australian debutant Tim Baker. Tim published his first crime novel, FEVER CITY, to some pretty massive praise, and has led an interesting and eclectic life before taking up the crime writing pen. He now lives in the South of France with his family, but his career has taken him from jazz journalism to running consular operations for the Australian embassy in North Africa, to working on film projects in Mexico, China, Brazil, and India.

Baker's debut, FEVER CITY, has been called 1960s classic noir blended with contemporary sensibilities, and weaves together threads including a private eye investigating a kidnapping, a hit man, and numerous conspiracies surrounding the assassination of JFK. The thriller has been described as: "If you took James Ellroy at his most imaginative and Oliver Stone at his most conspiratorial, and mixed them up in a supersized martini shaker, you would produce the vivid writing, explosive events, and irresistible entertainment of FEVER CITY."

The book currently sits in my TBR mountain, so I can't offer my personal opinion yet, but it certainly sounds very intriguing, and a number of top crime reviewers whose opinions I respect have spoken very highly of FEVER CITY, so I'm excited about reading it, as well as getting a chance to hear Tim Baker talk about the process of blending fact and fiction at one of his Crimefest sessions.

But for now, Tim Baker becomes the 148th author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


Photo Credit: Michael Quinn Martin
9MM: AN INTERVIEW WITH TIM BAKER

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
Philip Marlowe is by far the most complex in terms of his moral ambiguity, and he was responsible for a certain model of post-World War Two cynical anti-hero that I’ve always found interesting. But in terms of likability, it would have to be Hercule Poirot.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
The first book that I kept returning to was The Iliad. By the time I was ten I had read at least six different versions and preferred the prose translation by EV Rieu in the Penguin classics series.I loved the vivid landscape of the antique Mediterranean world, and the notion that gods walked amongst us, offering gifts one moment and setting traps the next. I always sided with the mortals against the gods, and that natural affinity for the underdog has carried on throughout my life.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
Before publishing my debut novel Fever City, I had published a collection of short stories entitled Out From The Past, and several other stories in various periodicals. I had also published around 350 pieces of journalism, mainly on the arts, and several non-fiction books on UNESCO’s World Heritage list of protected natural and cultural sites. I’d also written the feature screenplay Samsara.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Learning to swim when I was seven changed my life. I had been very ill throughout most of my childhood and this was the first physical activity I was capable of undertaking and marked the beginning of my road back to good health. These days I swim in the sea six months of the year. I also love to go sailing with a Hobie Cat catamaran, paddleboard, play tennis, ride a bike and walk my dog.  Beyond physical activities, I listen to music constantly, read when I’m not writing fiction, and have never been known to turn down the idea of lunch on a terrace by the sea.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Whether it be my hometown of Sydney, or the village that I live in now in the South of France, I would suggest the same thing, namely get a pair of comfortable walking shoes, a hat, some water and sunglasses, and just start following the coastline along one of the pedestrian pathways. If you start out early and walk far enough, you’ll eventually find a place where you can eat lunch and listen to the sea. And the walk back is never the same as the walk there.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Nic Cage or Chris Walken because they both know how to do crazy. Or Victor Mature and Steven Seagal because they don’t.

7. Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
Of all the books in my home, the ones that are my favourites are a Shakespeare and Company edition of Ulysses that I found in a second-hand stall in Paris, and my son’s copy of Goodnight Moon which I used to read to him every night many years ago.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? 
Stunned disbelief, followed by the urgent feeling that I had better get back to work finishing all the drafts of my other novels. I celebrated by riding a bike with my wife and son to a neighbouring village and having lunch in a small Italian restaurant overlooking an old port.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Being screamed at by Allen Ginsberg when I mentioned the words “Beat Generation”.


Thank you Tim. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch. 


Tim Baker will be appearing on two panels at Crimefest Bristol: the "Using Real People: How Do You Combine Fact and Fiction" session on Friday 20 May at 5,10pm, and the "Debut Authors: An Infusion of Fresh Blood" session on Sunday 22 May at 9.30am. You can see the full Crimefest programme here



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review: ENTER A MURDERER

ENTER A MURDERER by Ngaio Marsh (1935)

Reviewed by Shane Donald

The script of the Unicorn Theatre's new play uncannily echoes a quarrel in the star's dressing room. And the stage drama gets all too real when charming Felix Gardener shoots his blustering rival, Arthur Surbonardier, dead-with a gun Arthur himself loaded with blanks. Or did he? How the live bullets got there, and why, make for a convoluted case that pits Inspector Roderick Alleyn against someone who rates an Oscar for a murderously clever performance.

There sometimes seems to be two schools of thought with regard to Ngaio Marsh’s work; the novels set in New Zealand are her best work, while her novels set in England are very much of their time. They depict a world of country houses, idle aristocrats and servants who do little within the world of the novels except to move the plot along. The novels set in England lack the critique of society apparent in stories such as Vintage Murder, which is set in New Zealand and examines Pakeha and Maori race relations, while also being a good example of the clue-puzzle genre in which the reader knows just as much as the detective and, therefore, has the same chance of solving the crime.

Enter a Murderer is the first novel set in the theatrical world that Marsh knew so well. In her youth she had been a touring actress and that shows in the degree of detail used to describe staging and the rivalries of the actors. Felix Gardener and Arthur Surbonadier are actors who competed for the same part, with Gardener winning the leading role, while Surbonadier plays a lesser character. During the play, Gardener has to shoot Surbonadier. The gun used as a prop been tampered with and blanks replaced with real bullets. Inspector Roderick Alleyn is in the audience and witnesses the death of Arthur Surbonadier. Who loaded the gun with real bullets and why?

This is the second outing for Roderick Alleyn and it’s fair to say that Marsh was still working out what kind of character she wanted him to be. Her stated aim was to create a detective free of the quirks of Hercule Poirot or Lord Peter Wimsey. She wanted to depict a detective who was a professional policeman; however, like Wimsey she makes him an aristocrat (though far less facetious than Sayers’ creation) and this serves to remind modern-day readers that this is a detective novel from the Golden Age. Alleyn has the trappings of other fictional detectives of the time such as wealth and social position though this is used by him to gain access to the upper echelons of society who fear talking to the police. It does slightly undermine Marsh’s claim to realism but the time devoted to showing the procedures that Alleyn and his team follow, as police employees, differs from other examples in the genre such as Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion. Campion is an aristocrat and amateur detective who seems to detect for amusement, rather than as a job.

So is Enter a Murder a good novel? I would say yes, though with some reservations. It must be remembered that Marsh wrote 32 novels with Alleyn as her protagonist. This is but the second. There is a lack of depth to some characters in the story and as a clue-puzzle, working out who the killer is is fairly easy. However, it is an entertaining read and gives some insight into a time and place that no longer exists. It is sometimes forgotten that Nagio Marsh is New Zealand’s best-selling novelist by quite some way and the novels set in New Zealand in the 1940s are good examples of social-realist writing, set within the confines of genre fiction. Marsh’s work is still in print and has most recently been re-released by Harper in omnibus editions with three novels per edition. In the 1990s, The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries was also screened by the BBC, with Patrick Malahide taking the role of Alleyn. While no episodes were based on the New Zealand-set novels, the stories chosen remain largely faithful to the originals. However, it has to be said – Patrick Malahide looks nothing like the Roderick Alleyn described in the novels…For the curious reader, I recommend taking a look.


Shane Donald is a New Zealander living in Taiwan. An avid reader with 3,000 books in his home, he completed a dissertation on Ngaio Marsh for his MA degree, and also has a PhD in applied linguistics. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

New Zealand crime releases 2016

Kia ora everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend, perhaps including a good book or two. I thought I'd create a page here where I could collate information about this year's New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller releases, rather than such information only being spread across news snippets throughout the year.

Last year was a big year in New Zealand crime writing, with more than 35 new titles being released by publishers large, small, and independent. We have 29 different books entered in this year's Ngaio Marsh Awards - more than double any previous year. And that's without many crime stalwarts of previous years - Paul Thomas, Paddy Richardson, Neil Cross, Liam McIlvanney, Alix Bosco and others - releasing a book in 2015.

So I'm excited to see what's to come this year and beyond, as more and more talented New Zealand authors choose to write thrilling tales of murder, mystery, and mayhem. I'll update this list of 2016 crime novels as new books are released (or as I learn of them). Here is where we stand now.


RED HERRING by Jonothan Cullinane
Murder, political intrigue, bent cops and the fate of a nation - a thriller set in the murky underworld of 1951 New Zealand. A man overboard, a murder and a lot of loose ends ...

In Auckland 1951 the workers and the government are heading for bloody confrontation and the waterfront is the frontline. But this is a war with more than two sides and nothing is what it seems. Into the secret world of rival union politics, dark political agendas and worldwide anti-communist hysteria steps Johnny Molloy, a private detective with secrets of his own. Caitlin O'Carolan, a feisty young reporter, is following her own leads. Together they begin to uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Establishment - and which will threaten their own lives in the process.

Filled with memorable characters, including many colourful real-life figures from recent New Zealand history, Red Herring is the stunning debut from a vibrant new voice in New Zealand fiction.

To be published later in 2016 by HarperCollins. No cover image available yet. 


MY NAME IS MILENA ROVKA by TA MacLagan
After seven years living as Alexandra Gastone, Milena Rokva is now free to be her true self, if only she knew who that was or had time to find out. Milena is in a race against time to bring down Perun, the very organization that trained her as a spy. Perun, no longer content to use their network of sleeper agents to protect Olissa, is maneuvered to take control of the world’s energy markets sending the globe into chaos.

Working with her surrogate grandfather, Albert Gastone, his CIA friend, Brad, and her old handler, Varos, Milena finds herself embroiled in an epic spy game teamed with friends whose endgames do not necessarily align with her own. The only person Milena can truly trust is herself.

Can Milena take down Perun, protect her fellow cadets and make a life for herself with the friends and family she has come to love as Alexandra Gastone?

To be published July 2016. Read my review of the first book in the series, THEY CALL ME ALEXANDRA GASTONE, here


PSYCHOBYTE by Cat Connor
Another day, another death, might not be unusual in FBI Agent Ellie Conway’s world but a baffling series of naked, bloodless, blondes in pristine showers makes her wonder if she is dealing with a genuine vampire.

Investigating the deaths of these women, Ellie is surprised when clairsentience is added to her remarkable armory of psycho-prophetic talents. Secrets emerge as she races to find a killer with a particular and gruesome agenda. Mounting bodies, escalating pressure, a sinister connection between the art world, the Darknet and the FBI, an impending wedding, peculiar liaisons, and a personal shock challenge Ellie and the Delta A team.

To be published July 2016. Read Margot Kinberg's review of KILLERBYTE, an earlier book in the Ellie Conway series, here



THE AGENCY by Ian Austin
Dan Calder is an ex Brit and ex policeman looking for a fresh start in a new country but still carrying the baggage of failed relationships and a depressed, repressed past. He chose New Zealand because it was as far as he could get from his old life but did not take into account the universal six degrees of separation is no more than two or three in the land of the long white cloud.

The Agency provides a service like no other and New Zealand is the ideal location to find a new client. When Calder first encounters it by sheer chance, his life instantly changes and before long others are depending on him too. Engaged in a deadly game with an unknown foe; this was not the new life Dan Calder planned for himself but now at stake is the ultimate reward; his own salvation.

To be published June 2016. 



MYSTERIOUS MYSTERIES OF THE ARO VALLEY by Danyl McLauchlan
A returning hero. A desolate valley. A missing mathematician. A glamorous and beguiling council bureaucrat with a hidden past. A cryptic map leading to an impossible labyrinth. An ancient conspiracy; an ancient evil. A housing development without proper planning permission. All leading to the most mysterious mystery of all.


Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley is a dark and forbidding new comic farce by the author of Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley. "Aro Comic Noir just may become a literary cult of its own." (David Hill, New Zealand Herald).

To be published June 2016



A STRAITS SETTLEMENT by Brian Stoddart
In the third installment of the Le Fanu Mystery series, the intrepid superintendent is promoted to Inspector-General of Police in 1920s Madras, which proves to be more boring than he had envisaged. Instead of pushing papers across his desk, Le Fanu focuses on the disappearance of a senior Indian Civil Service officer and an apparently unrelated murder. As the two incidents intertwine, the world-weary detective is drawn into the worlds of indentured labour recruitment and antiquities theft.

To be published May 2016. Read Karen Chisholm's review of the first Le Fanu book, A MADRAS MIASMA, here. You can also read Karen's review of the second book, THE PALLAMPUR PREDICAMENT, here


ELEMENTARY: BLOOD & INK by Adam Christopher
A brand-new novel tie-in to the popular Elementary TV series. The CFO of a secretive NYC hedge fund is found murdered—stabbed through the eye with an expensive fountain pen. Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson discover a link between the victim and a charismatic touring management guru with a doubtful past. But is the solution so clear-cut or is the guru being framed?

As secrets are revealed and another victim is found murdered in the same grisly fashion, Holmes and Watson begin to uncover a murky world of money and deceit...

Published April 2016. 


SPARE ME THE TRUTH by CJ Carver
Dan Forrester, piecing his life back together after the tragic death of his son, is approached in a supermarket by a woman who tells him everything he remembers about his life - and his son - is a lie. Grace Reavey, stricken by grief, is accosted at her mother's funeral. The threat is simple: pay the staggering sum her mother allegedly owed, or lose everything. Lucy Davies has been forced from the Met by her own maverick behaviour. Desperate to prove herself in her new rural post, she's on the hunt for a killer - but this is no small town criminal.

Plunged into a conspiracy that will test each of them to their limits, these three strangers are brought together in their hunt for the truth, whatever it costs. And as their respective investigations become further and further entwined, it becomes clear that at the centre of this tangled web is a threat more explosive than any of them could have imagined.

Published April 2016. 


SHERLOCK HOLMES: POISONOUS PEOPLE by Lyn McConchie
Lyn McConchie transports us to Victorian London, where Sherlock Holmes and John Watson must solve two cases involving Poisonous People. Maid and occasional cook Mary Fellowes has been accused of attempting to poison her employers and the evidence against her is damning-or is it? Is she the scheming and vengeful woman that others describe? Or is she innocent, caught in a web of deceit? Holmes and Watson must follow the evidence, exposing long-buried family secrets and hidden conflict, in order to discover the truth and prevent a deadly injustice. Who murdered successful businessman Gerald Barnes Wimbledon, and why? Stymied by the case, Scotland Yard calls in Holmes and Watson. Their investigations unearth a hidden diary-a journal whose pages provide motives for several business rivals, as well as for the woman he loved and who spurned him publicly. As Holmes and Watson dig deeper into Wimbledon's past, they must question everything they have learned about the man calling himself Gerald Barnes Wimbledon, including how he died.

Published April 2016. 


THE THREE DEATHS OF MAGDALENE LYNTON by Katherine Hayton
Forty years ago Magdalene Lynton drowned in a slurry. She choked to death as her hands scrabbled for purchase on the smooth concrete walls. A farmhand discovered her bloated body three days later.

Or she didn't. Paul Worthington just confessed to her murder. Forty years ago Magdalene Lynton died in a dirty shed. He smothered her life along with her cries for help and tossed her defiled corpse into a river when he was done. Or he didn't.

As Detective Ngaire Blakes investigates the death, she discovers clues that won't piece together with either version. Gaps, inconsistencies, lies. And forty years have eroded more than memories.Is it possible to uncover the third death of Magdalene Lynton when time has eaten away at the evidence? And will the person responsible let Ngaire live long enough to try.

Published March 2016. Winner of the Kindle Scout contest. 


THE JADED KIWI by Nick Spill
The summer of 1976 in Auckland, New Zealand. There is a severe marijuana drought. Two couples; a gynaecologist and a physicist, together with a violinist and an actress meet by accident in a pub and help a Maori evade the police.

A group of Maori plans to deliver a truckload of cannabis to Auckland. A Chinese family has harvested four greenhouses of enhanced sensimilla. A criminal mastermind plots to start a drug war. A police Inspector hunts a fugitive Maori. The war on drugs starts in New Zealand.  Published March 2016. Read Karen Chisholm's review here


THE SERVICE: WARLOCK by Angus McLean
144 civilians were slaughtered when a Serbian unit wiped out their village 20 years ago, in a dirty war where brutality was the norm. The Serb commander of the dreaded Red Wolves escaped from The Hague and has been hunted ever since. Now a single slip of the tongue has set off alarm bells. Could Josef Durakovic, wanted war criminal, really be hiding out in Auckland?

Charlie Nickals of the Security Intelligence Service is handed the reins for his first big op, and with promotion on the cards, the pressure is on to pull off a major coup. With unwanted assistance from Special Forces, and utilising all their skills at covert surveillance, Charlie leads a small team of spies to recapture one of the most wanted mass murderers on the globe.

Charlie knows that if a monster is living among the innocent, then he needs to be fast, accurate and ruthless. One wrong step and blood will be spilled. He can't afford to screw this up, or more innocents will die. The SIS team have one focus: identify and neutralise war criminal Josef Durakovic. Code name, Warlock. Published March 2016. 


TAINTED BY FIRE by Sidney Mazzi
Bradley Cain is a family man living an ordinary life in a peaceful town in New Zealand. In one short moment his world and everything in it changes life as he knows it. Waking up confused and in pain, Brad soon is caught up in a desperate fight to regain his family and reputation.

In fast paced action, Brad is launched into a war with some of New Zealand´s most violent criminals. There is just one way for him to win, and to regain his family. All will taste the fear as Brad is tainted by fire and wallows deep in the mind of the psychopath. How much of Brad will be left if he is to regain what has been stolen from him. Published March 2016. 



THE ICE SHROUD by Gordon Ell
When a woman's body is discovered frozen in the ice of a river near the alpine resort of Queenstown, Detective Sergeant Malcolm Buchan faces both a mystery and a moral dilemma. The identity of the nude woman is critical to the motives and manner of her murder, and Buchan is personally involved. So are a number of locals, from ski bums to multi-millionaire businessman.

Newly appointed to head CIB in the Southern Lakes district, Buchan hunts the killer through the entanglements of corruption and abuse that lie barely below the surface of the tourist towns.  The assistance of a woman traffic sergeant is critical to the hunt but she brings her own dilemmas. The community is practised at keeping its secrets, and finding the truth comes at a price. Published March 2016. 


List updated as of Monday 23 May 2016. 

If you are aware of any other new New Zealand novels that would fall within the broad crime, mystery, or thriller genre, please do leave a comment or send me a message. Thanks!

Friday, May 13, 2016

9mm interview: JM Gulvin

Welcome to the latest issue of 9mm, our long-running author Q&A series here on Crime Watch. Today I'm pleased to welcome an intriguing crime writer to the fold, JM Gulvin, who this month launched his first book in what looks like it could be a fascinating new series, THE LONG COUNT.

Gulvin is a British author (half English, half Scottish) who now divides his time between Wales and the American West, a region that seems to have burrowed its way into his soul. THE LONG COUNT introduces Texas Ranger John Quarrie, who is called to the scene of an apparent suicide by a fellow war veteran. Although the local police want the case shut down, John Q is convinced that events aren't quite so straightforward, especially as the man's son - recently returned from Vietnam - believes his father was murdered. Together the pair start looking into a series of other violent incidents in the area.

While THE LONG COUNT is the first novel from 'JM Gulvin', Jeff Gulvin has a long publishing pedigree, having debuted twenty years ago with SLEEP NO MORE, a crime novel centered on maverick detective Aden Vanner. In the years since Gulvin has written around 20 books, ranging from further Venner tales and FBI thrillers to assisting with James Corden's autobiography and ghost-writing the Galaxy British Book Awards winning LONG WAY DOWN, an account of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman's motorcycle journey from Scotland to the southern tip of Africa.

Over the past decade Gulvin has largely concentrated on non-fiction works, but by the look of THE LONG COUNT, it's certainly great to have him back in the crime fiction fold once more, and I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes the character and the series.

But for now, JM Gulvin becomes the latest author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


9MM: AN INTERVIEW WITH JM GULVIN

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
This is actually quite a difficult question to answer as I don’t read a lot of crime fiction. That’s largely because I don’t want to be influenced by any similar author’s work and tend to read literary novels in order to improve my craft. That said, if I had to pick one, it would be Dave Robichaux. James Lee Burke is a writer’s writer.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
“The Song of Hiawatha” (Children’s version). I was at Gillespie’s boys school aged five in Edinburgh and I’ll never forget the image of the angel of death rising from the flames of the Tipi fire to claim Minnehaha. I cried and cried and cried. If I think about it now I still could. That was closely followed by “Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims”, which I later found out was true.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I wrote 15 books from the age of 18 to 33 when SLEEP NO MORE was accepted. They covered everything from the troubles in Northern Ireland to a PI, to a book called OLIVERA STREET set in 1950’s New York. The best was THE GHOST DANCER about a modern day Native American living as he would in the old days in the deserts of Nevada.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I go to America to visit my friends. I live and breathe my work and the people I’ve met down the years are a massive part of it. If I had enough money I’d live full time in Texas or New Mexico maybe. I’d write in the mornings and cowboy for a local rancher in the afternoons. They’re always crying out for help and I can’t think of a better reason for being on a horse. I cowboyed in Idaho for a summer and the seven times state rodeo champion said I was a natural.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
My hometown is Crickhowell in Wales, which was featured on the BBC recently as “The Town that took on the Taxman”. I’d invite a visitor to come to my house and look out of any window at the most fantastic views.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I don’t think my life would make much of a movie. I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to play me. If they had no choice and I could drag them kicking and screaming, I’d insist on James Woods because he talks almost as much as I do. 


7. Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
My favourite book so far is THE LONG COUNT because I was born to write John Q.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
That’s a brilliant question. I can tell you exactly. 4:30pm on Monday July 31st 1995 I receive a phone call from Robert Kirby my agent. He tells me they said “yes” after I’d been suffering rejections for 15 bitter years. I got in my car and drove. One song on repeat: “Better Days” by Bruce Springsteen. 

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
A variation on part two of your last question. I was at Norwich airport about to fly to the US for the summer of 2000. I bought a copy of HANNIBAL by Thomas Harris, I recall it had a shiny red cover. Sitting across from me as we waited for the plane, was a soldier who was almost through a copy of what I thought was the same book. Leaning over, I asked him what he thought of it. Without looking up, he told me it was good.

How good? I asked him

Bloody good, he told me.

Really, I said. I’ll look forward to it then.

At that his concentration was lost and he glowered at me.

It’s really that good? I asked him.

I tell you what, he said, it’s this good.

Opening his rucksack he brought out what he said was the sequel. There was no sequel that I could recall. The book he brought out was called NOM DE GUERRE. What he was reading wasn’t HANNIBAL at all; it was my novel STORM CROW.

No word of a lie. Of course I showed him my passport.


Thank you Jeff. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Protests, politics, and power: upcoming NZ crime


When I was growing up in Nelson in the 1980s I - like many of my peers - thought our own history wasn't anywhere near as exciting as the exotic things I read about from overseas. We'd visit Founders Park or the Isel Park Museum, see some 1800s classrooms, machinery, and other things from settler life, look at old photos, and learn a little about the Treaty of Waitangi - but where were the pirates, the battles, the daring deeds and heroic figures?

For a primary schooler (grade school for our US readers), it all seemed rather drab in comparison.

Of course the truth is rather different: New Zealand may be a young country on the far side of the world from nations that have grown from ancient civilisations, but our shorter history is packed with all sorts of fascinating events and people, from those who've paved the way for the world (eg Kate Sheppard and the suffragettes who secured the vote for women, Ernest Rutherford splitting the atom, Edmund Hillary conquering Mt Everest alongside Tenzing Norgay,) to lesser-known but equally interesting people and events.

As a crime fiction fan who enjoys the way setting can bleed into and texture great mystery tales, I've often wondered why New Zealand writers, of all kinds, haven't tapped into that history more. In particular, New Zealand society changed a lot in the post-war years, and there were many seminal events, from the 1950s Waterfront strikes to the Vietnam War, Springbok Tour in 1981, Muldoon's snap election, rise and fall of the 1980s Labour Party, the Rainbow Warrior bombing, and nuclear shipping stand-off with the United States. Among many other things.

In her very good crime novel CROSS FINGERS, Paddy Richardson does revisit the Springbok Tour, and today I've learned that another New Zealand crime writer will be publishing a thriller set another of those key events in our country's modern history: the 1951 Waterfront Strike.

RED HERRING from debutant Jonothan Cullinane will be published by HarperCollins later this year. I don't have a cover image to share at this stage, but here's the blurb:
Murder, political intrigue, bent cops and the fate of a nation - a thriller set in the murky underworld of 1951 New Zealand. A man overboard, a murder and a lot of loose ends ...In Auckland 1951 the workers and the government are heading for bloody confrontation and the waterfront is the frontline. But this is a war with more than two sides and nothing is what it seems. Into the secret world of rival union politics, dark political agendas and worldwide anti-communist hysteria steps Johnny Molloy, a private detective with secrets of his own. Caitlin O'Carolan, a feisty young reporter, is following her own leads. Together they begin to uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Establishment - and which will threaten their own lives in the process. Filled with memorable characters, including many colourful real-life figures from recent New Zealand history, Red Herring is the stunning debut from a vibrant new voice in New Zealand fiction.

I'll share more about RED HERRING as its publication nears. In the meantime, for those interested in learning more about the Waterfront Strikes, you can take a look here.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Murder in the Library - Nelson - 14 July



The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with the New Zealand Book Council, invites booklovers to a thrilling event featuring three talented crime writers.

As crime writing has evolved from puzzle-like mysteries to novels delving deeply into people and places, it has continued to be the world’s most popular form of storytelling. But just what makes the genre so fascinating?

Auckland author Ben Sanders, whose latest novel is in the running for the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Awards, will be joined by two acclaimed Top of the South thriller writers, Alan Carter and Mike Ponder, to discuss crafting great characters and how they blend page-turning plotlines with real-life themes. Stella Chrysostomou of Page & Blackmore will cross-examine the authors and keep the peace.

WHEN: Thursday, 14 July 2016
WHERE: Elma Turner Library, 27 Halifax Street, Nelson
WHEN: 6.15pm for a 6.30pm panel discussion

Pick up your free tickets from any of the Nelson Libraries, or Page & Blackmore Booksellers, or e-mail library@ncc.govt.nz to reserve your tickets and pick them up prior to the evening.

The Nelson Murder in the Library event is part of a number of crime fiction-themed events at Nelson Libraries in July, including 'Solve Our Murder Mystery!', 'Meet the Police Dog', children's holiday activities, a lunchtime talk with Alan Carter, and voting on the Best of the Ngaios.

You can vote for your favorite Ngaio Marsh Award winner here.

Alan Carter won a Ned Kelly Award for his debut crime novel PRIME CUT, starring an Asian-Australian detective in Perth. His latest book in that series is BAD SEED, and he’s now working on a mystery set in the Top of the South.

Acclaimed Marlborough artist, cattle breeder, and winemaker Mike Ponder has written books about several of his passions. He has also published two exciting conspiracy thrillers in a planned trilogy. His latest is FOUR KINGS.

Sanders' AMERICAN BLOOD "cements the arrival of a major crime talent" (New Zealand Herald). His debut THE FALLEN was a #1 New Zealand bestseller, and he’s now under contract with a major New York publisher.