Friday, November 26, 2010

SURRENDER reviewed in today's NZLawyer

Today the print issue of NZLawyer magazine, which goes out to nearly 10,000 lawyers, judges, politicians and others in New Zealand, included a review of SURRENDER, the debut crime novel from Wellington-based author Donna Malane.

The reviewer was Sarah Gumbley, a literary fiction buff who is increasingly appreciating more crime fiction, and who has also provided several guest reviews to Crime Watch in recent times.

With the editor's permission, I am sharing Sarah's here with you all (since unless you are a Kiwi lawyer, judge or politician, you're unlikely to have access to the print version of NZLawyer magazine - and unlike the news and feature articles, the reviews aren't placed online).

By Donna Malane (New Zealand Society of Authors, 2010)

Reviewed by Sarah Gumbley
The winner of the first NZSA-Pindar Publishing Prize, an award given to the best unpublished manuscript in New Zealand, was announced in June. While over 500 entries were received, ranging from poetry and short story collections to adult fiction of varying genres, it was a crime fiction tale from a Wellingtonian that impressed the judges the most. Since the announcement the people at Pindar have been busy turning that manuscript into a book for the shelves, and the result was released in September. Donna Malane’s Surrender can now be purchased in good bookstores throughout the country, and is well worth every penny.

Surrender follows freelance researcher Diane Rowe. Her subject: missing persons. Sometimes she works for the police, sometimes for private investigators, and other times for anyone else that wants to track down someone they miss. Her latest job is for the police force, and seems to be a rather tricky one. A body was discovered, old, and mostly decayed, in the Rimutaka State Forest. But this time it’s a struggle to figure out who this John Doe is. There are no persons listed as missing on the register that match up to the JD, but how could a man go missing without a single person noticing? Worse still, storms over the years will have shifted the body around the ranges, making it almost impossible to figure out the spot where the man died.

But at the same time, Rowe is working on another investigation – however this one is personal. She finds out that Snow, the suspected killer of her sister, Niki, who was murdered a year ago, has just been discovered, dead. Snow has been stabbed in the back with a boning knife, identical to the way that Niki was killed. But who killed him, and why? The more she investigates, the more a tangled web emerges, a web that makes Niki’s life appear a lot more sinister than Diane ever imagined. Just what was her sweet baby sister getting up to that she didn’t know about? Sometimes, some truths should stay buried.

Donna Malane is already an award-winning television producer and scriptwriter, and her partner, Ian Wedde is a novelist, so it’s no surprise she has come out with a really great tale. Surrender is fast-paced and edgy. I finished it within a few days, as I just had to find out what had happened. Diane Rowe, its main character is tough and rough but she’s also very likeable, which will make her last over the series. The judges of the award, New Zealand Herald Books Editor Linda Herrick, acclaimed editor and fiction writer Graeme Lay, and Pindar Publishing’s Mia Yardley, have made a good decision in picking this story and I look forward to seeing what further excellent books this award produces in the coming years.


So what do you think of Sarah's review? Have you read SURRENDER? If not, does it sound like the kind of book you might want to try? Thoughts and comments welcome.


  1. Great review and it's excellent to hear that "SURRENDER" was reviewed in NZ Lawyer magazine. I really enjoyed the book and hope it continues to get all the positive reviews and success it deserves.

  2. I liked the twin plots and thought they were bother well told.

    There were some basic geographical errors regarding Wellington that made me jump out of my reading of the book. It's Webb Street not Web, and the sex shop Diane passed wasn't D-vice. After reading Somebody Loves Us All with the way Damien Wilkins really makes Wellington part of the book, I thought Malane struggled with this aspect of the book.