You Come Near Me and I Run, Run, Run Right to Your Heart*

One of the great things about reading a lot of crime fiction is the chance it gives you to ‘meet’ new authors. It might not be good for the TBR, but reading the work of new and new-to-you authors allows the genre to grow and evolve. And trying the work of different authors can keep reading fresh. That’s why I’m always delighted to take part in the New (To Me, Anyway) Authors meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. By the way, if you’re not already following Mysteries in Paradise, you want to. It’s a treasure trove of reviews and news about crime fiction.

I’m spoilt for choice this quarter, because I’ve been privileged to serve on the panel for the Ngaio Marsh Best First Novel Award. The winner will be announced later this month. But I can say now that there are some very worthy contenders. Let me tell you a bit about them and their work.

Finn Bell

Finn Bell is a full-time writer, who lives in the far south part of New Zealand’s South Island. And that’s where his novel, Dead Lemons, takes place. In it, a man (also named Finn Bell) takes a cottage in a remote small town at the southernmost point of South Island. There, he’s hoping to put his life back together after the breakup of his marriage, and a terrible accident that’s left him in a wheelchair. Then, he discovers that his cottage was the scene of two disappearances. That’s enough to make him curious, but then, some very dangerous things begin to happen, and it’s soon clear that someone doesn’t want Bell to ask any questions or dig into this long-buried case. Little by little, Bell learns that the town might very well be hiding some very dark truths.

Want to know more about Finn Bell? His site is right here.

Want to know more about Dead Lemons? Check it out here.

Jonothan Cullinane

Jonothan Cullinane has a widely-varied background, beginning with his work as a roughneck on oil rigs. He’s also worked as a proofreader, a bartender, and in the New Zealand film industry. He currently works for the postal service.

Cullinane’s first novel, Red Herring, taps his working-class background. It takes place in 1951 Auckland, where waterfront workers and the government are on a collision course. It’s also a time of fanatic anti-communism, and that plays its role, too. In the novel, PI Johnny Molloy is hired to find a man named O’Phelan. When he discovers that his quarry died in an overboard incident, it starts to seem very much like a murder. But by now, Molloy is drawn into a web of political intrigue, dangerous conspiracies, and ‘backroom deals’ that put his life in serious danger. Along the way, he meets journalist Caitlin O’Carolan, who’s trying to make her way in what’s very much a man’s world. Together, they uncover some very dangerous secrets.

Want to know more about Jonothan Cullinane? His Facebook page is right here.

Want to know more about Red Herring? It’s right here.

Gordon Ell

Gordon Ell has a strong background in photography and nature. He’s a former president of Forest and Bird, and a member of the New Zealand Conservation Authority.

The Ice Shroud, Ell’s first novel, reflects his knowledge and understanding of the land. In it, Detective Sergeant (DS) Malcolm Buchan is called in when the body of a woman is discovered frozen in the ice of a river near the ski resort town of Queenstown, South Island. The woman is identified as Edie Longstreet, and Buchan and his team begin to trace her last days and weeks. It turns out that more than one person could have had a reason to kill the victim. As if the case weren’t complicated enough, Buchan is personally involved. So, it’s going to be difficult for him to do his job in an objective way.

Want to know more about Gordon Ell? There’s a bit right here.

Want to know more about The Ice Shroud? It’s here.


Simon Wyatt

Simon Wyatt is a former police detective who was on the force for ten years. Serious illness interrupted his career, but he’s resumed work. He currently works with New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Wyatt uses his extensive knowledge of crime and its investigation in The Student Body. In this police procedural novel, fifteen-year-old Natasha Johnson is found strangled during a school camp being held near Auckland. Newly-promoted Detective Sergeant (DS) Nick Knight is assigned to the case, and he and his team begin their investigation. As you can imagine, they pursue to main sets of leads: the victim’s family, and the other people at the camp. But as the case goes on, the team finds that things are more complex than they seem.

Want to know more about Simon Wyatt? His Facebook page is here.

Want to know more about The Student Body? Check it out right here.


Sue Younger

Sue Younger is an award-winning television documentary maker. After twenty years in that business, she decided to follow her dream of writing fiction, and earned a Masters in Creative Writing. She’s written several prize-winning short stories, as well as her debut novel, Days Are Like Grass.

Days Are Like Grass is the story of pediatric surgeon Claire Bowerman, who moves back to her home town of Auckland to be with her fiancé, Yossi, who wants to move there. She enjoys her work at Starship hospital, but she has very painful memories of life in Auckland. They’re all brought to the surface when one of her cases draws a lot of media attention. The press dredges up her past, which she has determined to forget. Now she has to face it, and so do her fifteen-year-old daughter Roimata ‘Roi’ and Yossi.

Want to know more about Sue Younger? Her website is here.

Want to know more about Days Are Like Grass? Check it out here.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Goldenhorse’s Run Run Run.


Filed under Finn Bell, Gordon Ell, Jonothan Cullinane, Simon Wyatt, Sue Younger

20 responses to “You Come Near Me and I Run, Run, Run Right to Your Heart*

  1. All of these sound good to me, Margot. What a great opportunity to get exposed to some new writers.

  2. I’m especially interested in Finn Bell’s book although they all sound good. I took part in one of the mystery convention’s new-author round-robin session (as a reader) and added almost every single author to my TBR list. That one included Stuart Neville and, I think, Jamie Freveletti.

  3. Always tricky trying to get some balance between playing catch-up with existing favourite authors without completely overlooking all the talented newcomers out there. These all sound interesting – I look forward to hearing who wins…

    • That’s just it, FictionFan. It really is a balance. And it’s very difficult to get it right. I don’t always succeed, but, hey, it’s fun trying! 🙂 – As to this particular competition, I’ll keep everyone updated and let everyone know who the winner is.

  4. Great post-I like the look of a few of these, so will revert back when I’m looking for a few more crime books! Enjoy the judging!:)

  5. Spade & Dagger

    I’m tempted by the Gordon Ell as I’m always keen to read fiction that incorporates elements from an author’s specialist interests or career. Similarly authors who have had multiple jobs, inevitably meeting many people, often create varied, interesting characters – so many of the other titles on the list seem promising too.

    • I know what you mean, Spade & Dagger. The more varied an author’s background, the more experiences there are to tap. And that makes the characters and contexts that much more interesting. If you do read the Ell, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  6. Kathy D.

    These ALL look interesting, especially Cullinane, Wyatt and Younger, but actually all of them. Problem is getting New Zealand books in the U.S.
    I bet you enjoyed reading all of the books in contention for that award, and will be interested to see which one wins.

  7. Margot, I’d never be able to choose any one. Our perspectives might differ but each of these books would be a good read. I’d be interested in your selection for the Ngaio Marsh Best First Novel Award.

    • The winner will be announced a bit later this month, Prashant. And you’re right; all of these books are different, but they’re all fine reads. I’ve been spoilt.

  8. Col

    Margot, you’ve already got me interested in the Finn Bell books – thanks. Cullinane’s is a maybe!

    • I think you’d like both Bell’s work and Cullinane’s, Col. There’s actually some very fine work coming out of New Zealand; I count myself lucky to have the chance to read it.

  9. It is great that you were exposed to so many new writers Margot – I like making new discoveries and the Bell sounds very good indeed!

    • I couldn’t agree more, Cleo. I really am fortunate to have the chance to read some great new Kiwi crime fiction. If you do read the Bell, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  10. Kathy D.

    I will hope some of the books come to the U.S. and will check Book Depository for them. The library is hopeless for global books.
    I look forward to seeing who wins.
    But what a thrill to read books by new authors. I’m reading two right now.
    New horizons open up.

    • That’s exactly what happens, Kathy – new horizons. I’m glad you’re having the opportunity now to ‘meet’ some new authors. And I will definitely let everyone know when the winner is announced.

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