Sunday, August 16, 2009

Waiheke Island resident debuts with archaeological mystery

Dorothy Fowler, a middle-aged Waiheke Island resident, and recent graduate of the Witi Ihimaera-run Masters of Creative Writing at the University of Auckland, released her debut novel WHAT REMAINS BEHIND last month.

Fowler had returned to university as an adult student after many years of diverse jobs, including renovating houses and boat building, to complete a BA in ancient history and archaeology. After taking one creative writing course with Ihimaera (WHALE RIDER etc), she was hooked, and went on to a place in the very selective Masters programme - during which time she worked on WHAT REMAINS BEHIND, mentored by award-winning NZ authors Ihimaera and Emily Perkins.

WHAT REMAINS BEHIND is a mystery set amongst the excavation of a site of a religious Kaipara Harbour community, which burnt to the ground in the 1880s. As the site is uncovered, so are secrets, and unpalatable truths are revealed about the events on the night of the fire. The publisher's blurb states: "When Chloe digs up more than shards of pottery, she realises that the site holds secrets that will not stay buried, and their effect on the present is devastating. Moving between a diary written in the 1880s and the current day, this compelling novel has murder, mystery, love, lust - and archaeology."

The book is near the top of my 'to be read' pile, and I am looking forward to it. Has anyone else read this? Does such a NZ-set mystery combining past and present entice you? Comments (without spoilers) welcome.

More information about Dorothy Fowler can be found at: or in a good interview-based article published a few weeks ago in the Waiheke Gulf News - see


  1. I like the idea of mysteries across the ages a la Kate Mosse or Barbara Erskine, so yes, a New Zealand version would definitely interest me. I did read one a few year's back involving old bones and museums, but can't for the life of me remember the title or who wrote it. (It's on my Father in law's bookshelf)

  2. I don't usually go for these books in the past with stroppy women but hey, I liked the red head on the cover. This Chloe Davis is a hell of a girl and she sorts out the baddies for sure. Wouldn't mind another rendezvous with Chlo. Lets hope I don't have to wait too long for the sequel.
    Frank B.

  3. I just started reading this last night, and it's drawing me in (about 15-20% of the way through). I'm curious to see what I'll think of it, 'cause it's not the usual 'style' I read. Always nice to have a change though, and I am enjoying it thusfar...