Thursday, January 27, 2011

C is for CUT & RUN

I am now playing a bit of catch-up here in relation to the fantastic Crime Fiction Alphabet series created and run by my fellow Anzac and book blogger Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise - after belatedly making my 'B' post yesterday, today I am making my official post for this week - the 'C' week of the Crime Fiction Alphabet.

The Crime Fiction Alphabet is a great series where each week crime fiction bloggers from around the world write about a notable crime fiction novel or author (first name or surname) starting with a particular letter of the alphabet, all linking to each other.

You can read the 27 posts from my 2010 effort (I did two posts for one letter), here. Last year I included 11 posts relating to New Zealand crime writers or crime novels. Not a bad strike-rate, in terms of highlighting Kiwi crime fiction to the world.

As I said recently, I've decided that I am going to do my best to publish a New Zealand crime and thriller fiction-related post for every letter this time around. Quite a challenge, perhaps. I will feature some New Zealand authors that were included last year, but I will create new posts and use them in a different way this time around, I've decided.

I've now also decided to tighten my 'theme' even more - to focusing on Kiwi crime fiction books (ie I won't do any author profiles etc this time around), although sometimes it may be the author's name that is relevant to the letter of the week. So you will get a review or profile of more than 26 Kiwi crime/thriller novels over the course of this series (given that some weeks I'll feature multiple books, like yesterday's post).

So for this week, 'C' week, I've decided that although there are plenty of good and great Kiwi crime novels and authors that I could choose for the 'C' post, that I will focus on the very first book to win the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel - Alix Bosco's debut CUT & RUN.

Cut & Run
by Alix Bosco (Penguin, August 2009)

The thriller-writing debut from a “successful writer in other media” writing under a pseudonym, Cut & Run introduces Auckland based-heroine and legal researcher Anna Markunas, who will apparently spearhead a planned series.
Middle-aged Markunas has been easing herself back into work, and equilibrium, after recovering from a breakdown suffered after years of will-sapping social work in South Auckland, the suicide of her husband, and the problems of her P-addicted son. Now a legal researcher for a defense lawyer friend, she finds herself looking into the circumstances of a celebrity murder.
When rugby star Alex Solona, who began life on the tough streets of South Auckland, is murdered in the arms of beautiful socialite Mikky St Claire, it seems an open-and-shut case of a drug deal gone wrong. A view bolstered by Solona’s former friend and rugby teammate Kamal Fifita confessing to the crime. But as Markunas begins to research Fifita and Solona’s backgrounds, she begins to suspect something far more sinister.

Overall, Cut & Run is a very enjoyable thriller that sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages. Bosco sets the scene by name-dropping a lot of real-life central Auckland locations and historic urban footnotes in the early going, before also taking the story to South Auckland and the Coromandel. There’s also a sense that some of the high-profile characters, including celebrities and QCs, may be amalgams of real-life New Zealanders, which can create a fun game of ‘I wonder who that is based on?’

But the bigger question is, ‘does it work as a thriller?’ And the answer to that is a resounding yes; Bosco creates an enjoyable page-turner not only through the ‘did Fifita really do it?’ plotline hook, kicked up a notch when subsequent discoveries put Markunas in danger, but through her creation of characters with some nice depth and complexity.

The more we learn about Markunas, the more we want to follow her (in this book and the ongoing series). The supporting cast could read like a caricature list: lawyers (honorable and not), cynical restaurant reviewers, violent gang members, jaded policeman, troubled youngsters, airhead socialites, but Bosco imbues them all with something more. She does a great job setting us up and then upturning our assumptions about not only the plot, but some of the characters. I look forward to the second in the series.

You can read the first chapter of Cut & Run HERE.


This review was first published in NZLawyer magazine, and is reprinted here with permission.


Have you read CUT & RUN? If so, what did you think? Of the book, of Anna Markunas as a heroine? Are you looking forward to the TV adaptation? Comments welcome.


  1. I think you've put a very challenging limitation on your CFA choices Craig.

  2. It will be a challenge, but hopefully a good one - and it's always good to try to stretch yourself. Hopefully I'll end up with a cool A-Z Kiwi lineup.

  3. There are some tricky letters but I see you have Z covered!

  4. Yes, yesterday I actually looked through my bookshelf at home of hard-to-find and out-of-print Kiwi crime novels to see if I could cover all the 26 letters... there were a few tricky ones, but I think I can do it. I have to get a touch creative with 'Q' and 'X', but all definitely within the spirit of the thing, and will keep it nicely themed...