As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m richly enjoying being a part of the judging panel for the brand-new Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel. It’s a true privilege, and I am grateful for the opportunity. Among many other things, it means I get to read some terrific new crime fiction.
There are lots of diverse, fresh new voices in New Zealand crime fiction, and I’m getting to hear some of them. Yesterday, I shared some of the entrants for this inaugural Best First Novel Award. Ready with your wish lists? Here are the others:
Deborah Rogers – The Devil’s Wire
Jennifer’s new neighbor, Lenise Jameson, is a liar. Lenise claims to have witnessed a disturbing incident involving Jennifer’s husband, Hank, but as far as Jennifer is concerned, the forty-something single mother is a vindictive backstabber out to make trouble.
But Jennifer soon discovers this is no sick joke. Hank has a dark side she knew nothing about.
As Jennifer’s life spirals out of control she has no one to turn to, apart from Lenise, who appears only too willing to help. But just who is Lenise? What does she want from Jennifer? And how far is she willing to go to get it?
A tale about secrets and obsession, and what can happen when you forget to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Fans of Girl on a Train and Gone Girl will love this new psychological thriller from award-winning writer, Deborah Rogers. The Devil’s Wire will keep you turning pages until the very end.
Gritty and honest, Jen Shieff’s debut novel, The Gentlemen’s Club is a psychological thriller that will shock you to the core.
Headstrong and independent, Rita Saunders is a warm and colourful character, a successful hairdresser by day and a busy brothel madam by night. The only thing missing from her life is the love of a good woman.
Istvan Ziegler is a Hungarian immigrant who has come to New Zealand full of anticipation to work on the new harbour bridge. His hopes and dreams become temporarily dashed when he comes up against 1950s NZ, where foreigners rarely gained entry to ‘the club’.
Sixteen-year-old Judith Curran has come to Auckland for an abortion. With no money or family support, she finds herself at the mercy of strangers and simply has to hope they have her best interests at heart.
Beautiful Fenella Grayson is an enigmatic character, a lively young Englishwoman who has emigrated after a series of job failures. Promiscuous and opportunistic, she has travelled to NZ on the Orcades as chaperone to three young girls headed for Lindsay Pitcaithly’s orphans’ home. She sets aside her suspicions that they are being singled out for the wrong reasons.
Becoming drawn into the little girls’ desperate situation, Rita, Judith and Istvan find fortitude they never knew they possessed. But do they have enough of it to expose the respectable yet menacing Pitcaithly, and the slice of the heartless and seedy underworld he inhabits?
The title ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ plays with the idea that respectability can be just a veneer, while suggesting that Rita’s brothel, and Rita herself, have a level of respectability they couldn’t claim for themselves.
With its carefully built historical setting, brilliantly realised characters and psychological plot, The Gentlemen’s Club is reminiscent of Sarah Waters’ writing.
Ken Smith – Hoodwinked
“There will always be skeptics, Michael,” Dick said. “There will also always be people who make money. I never force anyone to do anything.”
Dick was confident and charming and Michael relaxed.
The hook had been baited.
Michael Kilmartin, an Irishman now settled in South Africa is a busy lawyer, bored with his life and profession. He makes the ideal target for two con artists, the elegant Dick Willoughby and the beautiful Claire Salthouse, both of whom set out to ensnare with a web of deceit.
He is to be caught like a fish only discovering, too late, that he has been hoodwinked. Along the way, however, he and Claire fall in love but their love is tested by doubt, uncertainty and the lurking presence of an unscrupulous Dick in the background.
The unanswered question is: What will the outcome be if Claire chooses Michael instead of the money?
When artifacts from the tomb of an ancient Chinese legend, the Warrior King, go missing from a New Zealand museum, a forgotten world of darkness and an ancient war re-emerges.
Isabelle Kweon is enraged by the theft: She had worked alongside a team of Chinese scholars seeking to find the tomb. She found the tomb’s entrance, and everyone was astounded when they stepped inside to find it amazingly well preserved.
Meanwhile, Jian Zhao, a young Chinese man who fled the triads in Hong Kong, is living a quiet life in New Zealand, when he suddenly finds himself caught up in events connected to the tomb, together with his neighbour, Chris Mortimer.
At one point, Jian finds himself running for his life only to hear the voice of his dead uncle—a man he’d seen murdered—cry out, “I am coming for you!” The cry is followed by a cackling, evil laugh.
No one is safe as ancient forces return to haunt the present in Footsteps from the Shadows.
HTR Williams – Jumping Tracks
What happens when everything you want threatens everything you have?
Thomas is an amputee, a needy codependent and a gifted metal-smith who’s recovering from several mental breakdowns. He’s trying to forge a new path in life, but his attractive girlfriend Aafke—a Dunedin-based nurse— still seems too good to be true, despite the dark and licentious history she’s already disclosed to him. Should he trust her assurances that her past is dead and buried, or trust his own growing sense that something’s wrong?
Aafke’s suspicious behavior intensifies when Thomas takes her on what’s supposed to be a romantic getaway. First they travel to earthquake ravaged Christchurch to stay with Aafke’s cantankerous grandmother. Aafke’s family seems to be full of dark secrets too. Next they board the Tranzalpine train to Greymouth. The carriages become a trap. Who’s taking who for a ride, and who keeps texting and calling Aafke on her cellphone?
Their already unstable relationship is dealt a seismic smack when the bodies of two former sex-workers—both related to Aafke’s past— are discovered back in Dunedin. Aafke herself is now a target. She’s being hunted down. Thomas must make a leap of faith and finally learn to go his own way in life, but, this far down the line, can he find the strength to do it, or will he simply derail again?
Dunedin, New Zealand, rattled by acts of violence and a hard, unseasonal flu, is a city under siege. Then, after five days of damaging rain, a twister rips through, exposing the body of a missing schoolgirl in Ross Creek.
Detective Senior Sergeant Leo Judd is the only one who can lead the investigation despite unresolved sorrow over the disappearance of his own daughter nine years earlier.
Sultry weather broods over the beleaguered city as suspects are sifted and pressure mounts for Leo to solve the crime. Meanwhile, his wife Kate tries to summon the courage to tell him the secrets she’s nursed for too long — including one about the disappearance of their beloved Beth.
See what I mean? Such a wealth of good reading! There’s a wide diversity, too, which I also like. There are historical novels, contemporary novels, and novels set in different places. There are some great Kiwi-authored debut novels out there awaiting you!
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Don Mcglashan’s Lucky Stars.