Tuesday, May 17, 2011


For my second go around at the Crime Fiction Alphabet (read my 2010 posts here), I've set myself the challenging task of focusing not only just on New Zealand-themed posts, but just 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.

This week I’m highlighting THE ROSENBERG PRINCIPLE, one of the many thrillers written by Colin D. Peel, a prolific author who lives in a coastal area near Auckland and has been published here and overseas. Peel has written more many novels under his own name, as well as SMOKE FROM ANOTHER FIRE as Lindsey Grey and EYE OF THE WARRIOR as Richard Hawke.

Peel has published more than twenty novels since 1972, with most being published by UK-based Robert Hale Publishing (who over the years have also published other NZ-based crime/thriller writers like Freda Bream). Several of Peel's novels have also been published in the USA by St Martin's Press, and overall his books have been published in 10 countries, and translated into six languages. There are also audio-book and large print versions. Peel's passion for 'international thrillers' can possibly be tied to his earlier career designing weapon systems in the aerospace industries of Europe and North America. According to his website, his stories "range from terrorism and nuclear-testing to gun-running, the heroin business, diamond smuggling and the illegal market for plutonium."

Peel's latest book, released in 2009, is THE RYBINSK DECEPTION. You can read more about him and his writing at his website here.

Like several other ‘popular fiction’ writers in New Zealand has been somewhat overlooked or underappreciated here at home - although it was great to see HarperCollins NZ had picked up the distribution of some of his books in recent times.

THE ROSENBERG PRINCIPLE was published by HarperCollins in 2005 (in New Zealand). Here’s the back cover blurb:

“In some of the most inaccessible forests on Earth, giant fires burn uncontrollably through coal seams far beneath the ground. For Adam McKendrick, one of the few men who have the expertise to extinguish them, the deeper they are, the greater the challenge. But when his ten-year-old son narrowly escapes death at the hands of an assassin, he finds himself in a deadly race to discover who is trying to silence him... and why.

From a routine assignment in Indonesia gone badly wrong, to the scene of another fire - born in the dying flames of Hitler’s Reich - he begins to uncover the truth, with the help of Lucy Mitchell, a young woman whose research into the Nazi movement has put her life at risk. A radical form of international terrorism is on the rise, using fear, religious hatred and a horrifying new bioweapon in the fight for racial supremacy and a new world order.”

In an article for the Sunday Star-Times, one of the biggest newspapers in New Zealand, renowned reviewer Iain Sharp called THE ROSENBERG PRINCIPLE “a gripping new thriller”, and noted that Peel, an inventor who once designed weapon systems for the aerospace industry, not only “excels at making scientific concepts accessible to the lay reader” but “goes a stage further by tying the ideas to exciting, cunningly plotted storylines”.

Sharp said Peel writes “intelligent adventure yarns” and “deserves to be as huge as Alistair Maclean or Robert Ludlum”. In an earlier article for the Sunday Star-Times in 2003 to coincide with the release of Peel’s thriller CHICANE, Sharp called Peel “one of New Zealand’s best kept literary secrets”.

Given that Alistair Maclean was one of my very favourite authors as an adolescent and teenager (the first adult novelist I was hooked on when I frequented the local library in the school holidays etc), I am very much looking forward to reading some of Peel’s novels. I acquired a copy of THE ROSENBERG PRINCIPLE from an online auction site, and also have bought copies of some of his older books, CHICANE and WHITE DESERT from a second-hand store.

You can buy new hardcover copies of his latest novel, THE RYBINSK DECEPTION, online from Amazon.co.uk, in hardback or paperback (only GBP5.51) from Book Depository, in hardback from Mighty Ape (NZ), and in e-book from Amazon (the latter is only US$8.90)

Have you read THE ROSENBERG PRINCIPLE, or any of Peel’s other novels? Do you enjoy action thrillers in the vein of Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum, and Desmond Bagley? Do you like thrillers that incorporate some science into them?

1 comment:

  1. Craig - A fine choice for "R." I haven't read The Rosenberg Principle, but I do respect Peel's fascinating background, and I like it that he incorporates it into his work. Thanks for reminding me of him.