Friday, January 29, 2010

Two promising Kiwi crime fiction releases next month!

Only a few days away now, February is shaping to be a good month for New Zealand crime and thriller writing, with new novels from established authors Paddy Richardson and Paul Cleave.

On 1 February HUNTING BLIND, Dunedin-based novelist Paddy Richardson's second crime/thriller novel (after 2008's A YEAR TO LEARN A WOMAN), will be released in New Zealand and Australia.

HUNTING BLIND centres on Stephanie, a psychiatrist whose sister went missing as a little girl at a school picnic beside a lake 17 years ago. Now a new patient's revelations force Stephanie to re-examine her sister's disappearance, which left her family devastated and their community asking plenty of questions, and embark on a journey to uncover the truth.

Richardson, now a full-time writer and part-time creative writing teacher living in Broad Bay, a beach settlement on the Otago Peninsula, says in a Q&A with her publisher Penguin NZ that she started writing seriously after going to an Otago University Summer School in Creative Writing.

Since that time she has published a debut 'slow-moving saga' novel, two collections of short stories (several of which have been broadcast on Radio New Zealand), her first thriller (A YEAR TO LEARN A WOMAN) and is now on the cusp of her third novel, and second psychological thriller, being released. You can read a good December 2008 interview with Richardson about her thriller writing, written by Edith Schofield for the Otago Daily Times, here.

I will of course keep you all informed about any interesting media coverage or reviews in relation to Richardson and HUNTING BLIND, as they arise.


Then on 19 February Paul Cleave's fourth Christchurch-set thriller, BLOOD MEN, will be released in New Zealand (it may actually be available in Australia earlier in the month). I have been fortunate enough to read an advance version of this book, and in my opinion it is Cleave's best book yet - and I really, really enjoyed both CEMETERY LAKE and THE CLEANER.

Giant US publisher Simon & Schuster have also been impressed, signing Cleave up based on this book, which will become his first book released in the USA, later this year (I understand they intend to release the previous three books in future also). So things look to be really moving ahead for the most successful Kiwi crime writer, internationally, since Dame Ngaio Marsh.

Though, like Marsh herself, Cleave is still relatively overlooked in his home country. But with over 750,000 books already sold (mainly in non-English speaking Europe), and his launch in the US market in 2010, perhaps Cleave will finally start getting the recognition he deserves down this way. In some ways I feel (or at least hope) that Cleave could potentially be New Zealand's version of Ian Rankin or Henning Mankell - in terms of being the writer that finally gets a wider audience looking at crime fiction from their country, and then eventually realising there are other good writers there also...

Once again, BLOOD MEN is a standalone novel written from the first-person perspective of a deeply troubled protagonist. There are minor character links with some of Cleave's earlier novels, which although separate, all occur in the same 'world' he's created. In BLOOD MEN, Edward Hunter is a happily-married family man with a great life but a dark past; he’s the son of a notorious serial killer who has been in prison for 20 years and will never be coming out. The son of a man of blood. When tragedy strikes, Edward suddenly needs the help of the man he’s spent all his life trying to distance himself from, and prove he’s not like – but as things spiral out of control Edward begins to hear his own dark inner voice, and begins to wonder whether he’s destined to become a man of blood, just like his father, too

The cover of BLOOD MEN includes an extract from a quote from British crime writing superstar Mark Billingham about Cleave's writing. In the full quote Billingham says: "Most people come back from New Zealand talking about the breathtaking scenery and the amazing experiences. I came back raving about Paul Cleave. These are stories that you won't forget in a while: relentlessly gripping, deliciously twisted and shot through with a vein of humour that's as dark as hell. Anyone who likes their crime fiction on the black and bloody side should move Paul Cleave straight to the top of their must-read list."

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I am looking forward to my copy of HUNTING BLIND arriving very soon. I have already read an advance version of BLOOD MEN, but am highly tempted to read it again. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes their crime a little dark, with some sly humour, gripping plot, and interesting characters.

Do either of these books sound interesting to you? Would you consider reading either HUNTING BLIND, BLOOD MEN, or both? Have you read the authors previous work? What do you think? Thoughts and comments welcome.

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