Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crime Watch Giveaway: win a New Zealand crime or thriller novel!

As good and great as many New Zealand crime or thriller fiction novels are, they can admittedly be hard to find outside of Australasia. At the moment, few Kiwi authors are published in Europe (though that is growing), and even less (if any) in the United States. This is a shame for not only the Kiwi authors who deserve more attention, but also the readers worldwide who are missing out on reading some great, different stories, and new voices.

So, in my own very small way, Crime Watch is coming to the rescue! In the first of what may become a regular feature, we are starting a competition where the winner(s) will receive a brand new Kiwi crime novel of their choice, dispatched to their door wherever they are around the world, absolutely free of charge.

The winner(s) can choose any Kiwi crime novel currently in print (ie that I can still buy for you), and if they're lucky, I may even be able to get the author to sign it for you with a personalised message. Examples of some recent Kiwi crime/thriller titles that you may wish to choose if you win, can be seen on the sidebar to the right. You can of course pick an older title if you prefer (e.g. Ngaio Marsh, earlier works from the authors listed to the right, etc). Any booklover, anywhere in the world (including NZ and Australia) is eligible.

So, how do I win this great prize, you ask? Well, it's easy. You need to simply make a comment on this post, which includes the following:

1. Your name and location (not your address - you can send that to me later if you win);

2(a). A small review (e.g. 75-100wds) of your favourite Kiwi crime/thriller novel (e.g. title, author, why you liked it); OR
2(b). If you've never read any Kiwi crime fiction, a small comment (e.g 75-100wds) on why you'd love to give Kiwi crime fiction a go;

3. The number of Kiwi authors you've read (vote in the poll to the right if you haven't already);

4. The title and author of the Kiwi crime/thriller book you choose as your prize, should you win.

It's as easy as that. Winner(s) will be chosen at random from all eligible entries (i.e. don't worry - you're not getting scored on your review) in a few days time. Depending on the number of entries, I may award more than one prize. And depending on the response, I may run another similar competition in future. Good luck! I looking forward to reading your thoughts and comments....


  1. This is one cool contest. I’ll put up a post about it tomorrow, which may be today for you, of course, or maybe yesterday.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

  2. I've Twittered this, Craig, so if anyone is following me, I hope they come over to enter.

  3. A fine competition. I´ll have to pick up my Ngaio Marsh novels from home (am staying in our cottage right now) and reread one of them.

  4. Are there any good New Zealand private eyes? I know Australia has Cliff Hardy but have never heard of a good Kiwi series.

    Orrin C. Judd
    Hanover, NH

  5. Ok, I'll go along. I'm Fred Runk, and I live in Tucson, Arizona, USA.

    I'm trying to break out and see what the rest of the world has to offer.

    The only Kiwi mystery writer that I've read is Dame Ngaio Marsh and that was decades ago, so I really can't comment on them--except to say that I enjoyed reading them and also am now enjoying Inspector Alleyn on TV.

    As I know nothing about NZ crime fiction, I will leave the choice up to you, with the comment that I prefer police procedurals. It should also be set in New Zealand.

  6. Well, Fred from Arizona is in the lead right now, since he's the only eligible "entry" comment yet. Hopefully we'll get a few more over the coming days...

    Orrin - not so many NZ PI novels (yet). Though Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave has a PI (not a recurring character yet though) - that's what I'd probably recommend for you if you want to enter - just add a comment about why you'd like to give NZ crime fiction a go (assuming you haven't read any yet). A couple of authors that are out of print, I think had PIs as well.

  7. I've read just one New Zealand crime novel: Guerilla Season by Paul Thomas. Here's part of what I wrote about it at the time:

    "I’ve never been able to make it past the first chapter of any Hiaasen novel, and for a while there, I thought the same would be the case with Guerilla Season. Then the action began. Police chase down a shadowy group that claims responsibility for killings. Spies, blackmailers and shady businessmen materialize, and sex is hinted at. The scope grows from alleged Maori terrorism to international espionage, and slowly I began to realize that damn, this man knows how to tell a story. I’ll be reading more of this guy and, without knowing anything about his body of work, I’d bet Paul Thomas could write a first-rate, not necessarily comic thriller if he set his mind to it."

    Was I right?
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

  8. Vanda Symon's two police thrillers, The Ringmaster and Overkill, are the only two Kiwi crime books I've read, but they're both exceptional. Both feature NZ police constable Sam Shepherd. Ms Symon is a real child of Chandler and Robert Parker; her first person, sardonic narration is terrific, a real NZ Sue Grafton. Her descriptions of the setting are fantastic; I've only been to NZ once, but I look forward to returning; until then, these books and others like them will have to do.

    Id be pretty happy to try Blood Line, by Michael Green, should I win.

    I'm Patrick Foster, and I'm from San Francisco, California, US.

  9. I love Ngaio Marsh's mysteries. My suggestion for anyone interested is, skip the first, A Man Lay Dead, in which Marsh was still finding her voice, begin with the second, Enter A Murderer, and read the lot from there.

    My favourite would be hard to pick. A Surfeit of Lampreys is very funny and well plotted. Marsh does eccentric characters very well. Tied Up In Tinsel features a house party in which every servant is a convicted murderer.

    Her mysteries fall into three broad categories: theatre killings (Marsh got her OBE for drama, not writing, and uses her background brilliantly), New Zealand killings (Alleyn travels to NZ frequently despite being very British), and then general murders set in England.

  10. J.m. Diaz
    Atlanta, GA (USA)

    I'd love to give a Kiwi crime novel a go. Nothing prepares one for a foreign travel destination like a good crime novel. ;) The fastest way to learn about other cultures is through the eyes of their authors.

  11. 1. I'm Mack Lundy and I live in Virginia, USA
    2. Why do I want to have a go at Kiwi crime fiction? I enjoy mysteries that give a sense of place - culture and customs different than what I know - and New Zealand is unknown territory to me. The geographic isolation, terrain, economy, links to Britain, quality of life, Maori population, etc. looked like an interesting setting for crime/thriller stories. How would an author handle a place with relatively low crime rate. I happened upon Vanda Symon's web site and read about overkill. It is set in a rural area of South Island which made me wonder about similarities/differences with other rural mysteries I've read, what kind of local color will there be.
    3. Kiwi authors read, 0
    4. Book desired - Overkill by Vanda Symon

  12. I'm all for this contest, and I'd love to give Kiwi crime a go, but I think for now, I'll just post in and say I appreciate your offering some New Zealand crime writers a broader international audience.

  13. This is a really interesting contest. I'm Chad in Arizona and I've never read a New Zealand crime novel before, but I would be very interested to read one. I'm a big fan of crime novels in general and would love to try out something new with a different perspective. I'm betting that New Zealand will offer a much different perspective and also give me a chance to discover a new author that I'm not going to be able to find at my local book store. Since I have no knowledge of the many New Zealand crime authors, if I win I would like to leave it in your capable hands to choose a good one to start out with. I'll also be certain to post a review and link on my blog when I read it.

    Thank you so much for the great contest!

  14. I'm completely new to New Zealand crime fiction, I think. My name is Jen and I live in the U.S. I also blog with a focus on crime fiction (http://jensbookthoughts.blogspot.com) I'm always looking for diversity in my crime fiction library. I read a lot of crime fiction that is created outside the US but published by an American publisher. However, I don't think I've read anything from New Zealand - ever. So, if I won I'd probably ask you to choose a police procedural or a P.I. novel that you highly recommend.

    I'm also going to mention this on my blog and add you to my blog roll. I'm sure a number of my readers would be interested as well! Thanks

  15. monroe stahr from los angeles.

    i've read ngaio marsh - but am still looking for a 'peter temple' kind of crime writer based in New Zealand.

    keep writing the reviews. part of the problem may be that the NZ crime writers haven't been published in the US yet.


  16. Thanks for all the entries everyone - keep them coming. We're at the threshold to have multiple winners now - so there will be at least 2 winners (more if we get some more entries) Great to see the US response thusfar...

  17. Peter, Melbourne Australia.

    I haven't read a Kiwi author before although I have seen Ngaio Marsh books around the book exchanges. I am always interested in something different to the books that are written by US and UK writers.

    Interested in Neil Cross as I saw one of his books in a new bookstore here.

    All the best from across the seas,


  18. hi, I'm from Russia)) I haven't read any NZ authours, but the more i read these notes the more i realise i'm gonna start reading them soon =)
    I'd like to read something by Paul Cleave =)
    and thanx for a great competition))))

  19. Hi Craig. My name is Richard and I live in Cork, Ireland.

    The only antipodean author I have read is Peter Temple, from your neighbouring “island”. I enjoyed reading crime fiction set on the opposite side of the world. It was refreshing change to the UK and US scenarios I normally read, with the occasional mainland Europe novel too. I am not for a moment suggesting the reading NZ crime fiction would be the same as Australian.

    Should I win your competition, I would leave the choice of prize up to you, although from your posts on the BTZ I expect Paul Cleave would be the sort I would enjoy. In fact, he is on my list of authors to start collecting.

  20. Rob from Ireland. I've not read a NZ crime novel yet. I'm hoping to read Liam McIlvanney shortly, although it's about Northern Ireland! I think NZ crime might suffer from the same kind of issue that NZ academic papers do (and other non US-UK English-speaking countries) - that is, it is seen as parochial rather than universal. So a crime novel in London has universal appeal, a crime novel in Christchurch is parochial with a limited, local readership. Hence it doesn't get the kind of circulation it deserves. You see this a little bit with Irish crime writing where at the crime writing festivals its sometimes put into its own session rather than mixed through (this year Emerald Noir in Harrogate) and only a couple of Irish writers are now breaking into international markets. And by far the largest seller, John Connolly, doesn't write about Ireland. Anyway, I want to read some New Zealand writers because I know they won't be parochial and if they deserved to be published in NZ then they deserve a wider international audience (I'll also write a review of it). The book I'd like to read is Vanda Symon's Overkill though I'd be happy with whatever turned up.

  21. Thanks for all the entries guys and gals. Good point Rob, about the feared 'parochialism'... i think the best stories have a universality to them, but in a specific, interesting (hopefully unique or well-evoked) setting. Whether it's films, TV or crime novels.

    We're looking at 3 winners at least now. To be honest, with all your great comments and enthusiasm, I'd love to send you all a Kiwi crime novel (but that would break the bank, since all of this is coming out of my own pocket)...

  22. Norman aka Uriah from Devon in the wet South West of England. The climate is a bit like NZ I think.
    I really should have read Dame Ngaio Marsh but am ashamed to admit I have never read any Kiwi authors but I do like reading about different cultures. Years ago I met two NZ All Black rugby players Earl Kirton and Waka Nathan who had a broken jaw so it must have been 1967. He could not play in the Test match against England that Saturday, although he wanted to. I have great respect for your toughness in New Zealand after meeting those guys up close.
    I would be happy with any book Vanda Symon , Alix Bosco or Paul Cleave would be fine.

  23. Dare I say, in my ignorance, I have never considered reading novels from Kiwi authors. It could be due to lack of marketing overseas, but I do not recognise any of these names. And crime/forensic/whodunnit novels are what I read most!
    So please, even though I'm South African and we are meant to be mortal enemies (says who anyway?!) PICK ME! PICK ME! I trust your choice as the best or most interesting author, I'm fairly easy to please...if it's a good book that is!

  24. 1. Marco Giubbani, Aulla, Italy.

    2. Like Fred, I have only read Ngaio Marsh, but so long ago I don't remember much, and anyway my tastes have veered away from the cozy subgenre. I've read Janet Frame, and you could make a case that her novel have mysteries and some crime. I'm a bit ashamed to say I know next to nothing about NZ crime fiction. It's time to remedy that.

    3. Ngaio Marsh and Janet Frame
    but I've seen The Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors and during my long love affair with Australian rock I allowed myself some escapades with groups like Split Enz, Crowded House, Chills, Verlaines and Jean Paul Sartre Experience.

    4. I trust your choice

  25. 1. Dorte; west coast of Denmark.
    2. Ngaio Marsh, Death in a White Tie (1938)
    This cozy mystery is a fine example of the Golden Age of crime. Though written by a New Zealander, the setting is London, and the novel gives a fine sense of the environment and the period.
    Like Lord Peter Wimsey, Detective Inspector Alleyn of Scotland Yard is a handsome and charming, noble investigator, and he seems quite taken by the painter Agatha Troy. (Not quite his class, and as she has been involved in a criminal case, she is too proud to marry him).
    Alleyn embarks on a case of blackmail among the upper circles at a time when scandals mattered. Soon a dead body appears in a taxi, however, making him even more determined to solve the case.
    Vintage Marsh – recommended for lovers of classic cozies.

    3. Ngaio Marsh
    4. E.g. a police procedural (my taste = something like Robotham & Peter Temple)

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  27. Mike Ripley, Essex, England

    Jack McClenaghan's MOVING TARGET from 1966 is a stunning manhunt/chase thriller about the tracking through mountain terrain of a deserter from the NZ army. Tough, gritty stuff with a real feel for the landscape. On publication in the UK was hailed as a natural successor to the classic "Rogue Male" which is praise indeed. It also pre-dated the first 'Rambo' book of David Morrell by about six years, though many of the themes are the same. Whatever you think of the central character, you know his end is going to be a tragic one.

  28. Thanks for that note Mike. I see you mentioned this and Paul Cleave's CEMETERY LAKE in the latest edition of Shots ezine. Thanks for the heads-up, especially as I am currently doing a bit of research on lost/forgotten/out of print Kiwi crime/thriller/mystery books from the past... I'll add MOVING TARGET to my list to try and get my hands on via library or 2nd hand dealers...

  29. 1. Dan Hubbard from Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA

    2. I've not yet read any Kiwi crime fiction, but would like to correct this, as I'm currently "travelling through reading." In the past year, I've sampled Russian, Chinese, Belgian, French, German and Icelandic crime tales, and am eager to add to my list.

    3. 0

    4. Based upon your recommendation, I'd select "Cemetery Lake" by Paul Cleave.

  30. You may be interested to know that UK publisher Harper are publishing Joanne Drayton's biography of Ngaio Marsh over here and to go with it, her entire canon of detective novels and short stories in 11 volumes to mark the Diamond Anniversary (1934-2009) of her first book.

  31. I haven't read any kiwi crime novels, however love great thrillers- for example just finished "Three Kisses" by Heath Daniels- with lots of great action and thrills. If they are anything like this book I will really enjoy reading them.

  32. Dear Craig:

    Sorry to contact you through the Comments section of Crime Watch, but I don't find your e-mail address listed anywhere on the site. Could you please drop me a note when you have a chance; I have a request to make of you. My e-mail address is jpwrites@wordcuts.org

    Jeff Pierce
    Editor, The Rap Sheet
    Senior Editor, January Magazine

  33. Her mysteries fall into three broad categories: theatre killings (Marsh got her OBE for drama, not writing, and uses her background brilliantly), New Zealand killings (Alleyn travels to NZ frequently despite being very British), and then general murders set in England.