Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We’re rapidly approaching the end of what will be a six month plus odyssey, an alphabetically-inspired crime fiction sojourn for our intrepid band of book-loving bloggers hailing from around the globe. This week, for the letter ‘S’, I’ve decided to feature another out-of-print and hard-ish to find Kiwi crime novel, SECRETS OF THE SYMPHONY by Gwen Skinner. Plenty of ‘S’s’ there, eh?

I first came across SECRETS OF THE SYMPHONY in a second-hand bookstore in my hometown of Richmond (near Nelson), when I was there visiting my parents a year or so ago. I’ve since seen it in some other second-hand bookstores in Auckland, and I’m sure that some libraries around the country may also stock it.

SECRETS OF THE SYMPHONY, which was published by Horizon Press in 2000, was Skinner’s first novel, but not her first piece of published writing. Between 1968 and 1975 she and her family journeyed for 90,000km around the world on a home-built yacht, leading to Skinner publishing SWANHILDE/AROUND THE WORLD IN A CONCRETE BOAT, amongst several other non-fiction titles. Along with her writing, Skinner has also had several other careers and interests: a keen musician, she became a member of a radio orchestra when she was 14, later joined the National Orchestra in Wellington, and also played with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; she was also a top fashion model in London, becoming a cover girl for Vogue; and on her return from Europe worked in New Zealand as a professional violinist, model, and newspaper and magazine journalist, along with having a family.

Skinner’s long-time interest in classical music clearly comes through in SECRETS OF THE SYMPHONY, a thriller set in that very world - along with the worlds of the Mafia and a Hong Kong drug cartel (which hopefully Skinner has less hands-on experience with). Here’s the back cover blurb: “The Tamaki Symphony Orchestra, a seething maelstrom of personal and sexual intrigue, is the unlikely setting for murders, a battle for a new drug supply route and the mysterious behaviour of a Russian violinist. An intriguing thriller that keeps you glued to the page.”
Are you participating in the crime fiction alphabet? Have you been enjoying learning about some lesser-known crime fiction, both here on Crime Watch and at some of the other terrific blog sites that are participating? Do you like the sound (no pun intended) of a murder mystery set in the musical world?

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