Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My first-ever crime picks for the Herald on Sunday

This year I've been asked to provide a monthly crime fiction round-up for the Herald on Sunday, one of New Zealand's most well-read newspapers. It's terrific to see some of New Zealand's larger media (big newspapers, magazines, TV shows etc) starting to include a little bit more crime fiction in their review pages - I'm very pleased to be able to contribute as well.

My first 'column', so to speak, was published this past weekend see above - in the 'Detours' lifestyle insert to the HOS), and now I can share it here with you. Each month I will pick 2-3 books that I have read in the past month (usually new or recent releases, but not always), and talk a little about them. Due to space constraints I don't have a lot of words to play with, but I'll be doing my best to highlight some good and great crime fiction, that could be enjoyable for some of the Herald on Sunday readers to try, as best I can.

Here's the first instalment of the monthly series:

Follow the Money
By Peter Corris (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)
The ‘godfather of Australian crime writing’, Corris has been penning his acclaimed Cliff Hardy tales for decades. This new instalment sees the aging hero in a slump; he’s lost his private eye license and his entire life savings - embezzled by a dodgy financial advisor, who later wound up dead. But then Hardy’s unofficially ‘hired’ by a slick, desperate lawyer to find out whether the embezzler faked his own death; an assignment that has the budding granddad entwined with ethnic gangs and Sydney’s gritty underbelly.

Buried Alive
By J.A. Kerley (Harper, $28.99)
The latest in Kerley’s excellent Carson Ryder series sees the young Alabama detective taking a long-overdue vacation, only to stumble onto a series of sadistic killings in rural Kentucky. Working both in conjunction and conflict with the local cops, Sheriff and FBI, Ryder tries to stay alive and uncover the truth while also dealing with the (welcome, for readers) reappearance of his brother Jeremy, an escaped killer. Kerley writes with pace and personality; mixing interesting characters, storylines and setting. An enjoyable read.

Shatter the Bones
By Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins, $39.99)
Few writers can mix brutality and belly laughs quite like Scottish author MacBride, whose Aberdeen-set thrillers starring DS Logan McRae can have you cringing one page, chuckling the next. McRae (more determined everyman than supercop) and his colourful colleagues and superiors are under intense media and public pressure due to the high-profile kidnapping of a mother-daughter duo, reality TV show singing sensations. An entertaining page-turner filled with plenty of wisecracks, vitality, and personal and professional conundrums.

Craig Sisterson was one of the judges of the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel last year. He blogs about crime and thriller fiction at http://kiwicrime.blogspot.com/


This column was first published in the Sunday 30 January 2011 issue of the Herald on Sunday, and is reprinted here with permission.

What do you think of my mini-reviews? Of having such a regular column in one of New Zealand's major newspapers? Have you read (or do you intend to) any of these titles? What are some fo the upcoming titles I should definitely include in future columns? Comments welcome.


  1. I like the mini-reviews, and this does seem to be the format favoured by the crime sections in the UK quality press, but as I have read a Peter Corris and a J A Kerley previously so probably need less description than someone coming completely cold to these authors.

    Re:regular column. Well done, a very positive development in these days of swingeing cuts all over to see more crime reviews in the press. Interesting mix of US.Antipodean and British crime. I guess that's representative of the NZ crime fans' interests?

    As for upcoming titles - well you are the expert on NZ crime, so hope to see some of your recommendations :)

  2. Thanks Laura R. I'll definitely be including BOUND by Vanda Symon in the next monthly column. Terrific book. And I will look to weave in more Kiwi crime as and when it's widely available...

  3. Mini reviews are better than no reviews at all of crime fiction in the mainstream press - we see very little here too - an occasional similar roundup to this in the Australian of a weekend is about all we get now. Good range of settings covered.

  4. The major New Zealand media do seem to be warming up to crime fiction - I write author features for some others, and occasionally a larger reveiw of a crime novel (500wds or more) too. I've noticed some crime fiction being included or reviewed in several major magazines (North & South, The Listener, Metro), including some New Zealand crime fiction, which is great.

  5. A very positive development, I agree. Crime fiction has been neglected for too long, yet as a librarian I can tell you it is the most popular fiction genre by far. Congratulations.

  6. Excellent selection for your first column.