Monday, June 27, 2011

X is for (IN) XTREMIS by David McGill

Well, we are now quickly zeroing in on the final letters as we come to the close of our latest alphabetically-inspired crime fiction sojourn, and this week we’ve arrived at the moment that always proves the trickiest for anyone making any sort of alphabetical list: the letter ‘X’. It's not like there are many x-related crime fiction topics out there to begin with, so the fact I've given myself the added restriction this year of only covering New Zealand books for the 2011 Crime Fiction Alphabet just adds to the degree of difficulty.
But never fear, because I have sifted through the Kiwi crime fiction backlog and come up holding a X-related gold nugget. This week, I’ve decided to focus on IN XTREMIS by David McGill, a “contemporary Auckland crime mystery” published in 2004 by Silver Owl Press. McGill is a prolific and wide-ranging writer, with a penchant for “Kiwi social history, sometimes fictional”. He’s written 45 books. Some of his fictional works fall within the thriller category, including IN XTREMIS, which is the sequel to his earlier novel THE MONSTRANCE, which was about the effects the theft of an ancient religious artefact had on a 1960s New Zealand family. IN XTREMIS is set in contemporary Auckland, where another generation must cope with the reappearance of the precious object, while dealing with environmental threat, obsessive religious art collectors, drug running, and the corruption of youth and murder. Here’s the back cover blurb:

“Extreme opposition to the marine adventure park of Auckland entrepreneur Gabriel Milicich is led by his estranged wife. Milicich wants ex-rugby league star Chris McCann aboard, but when Miranda Milicich drowns in suspicious circumstances, McCann’s daughter joins the violent protests.

McCann is drawn into a conflict dangerously complicated by the hunt on Milicich land for a priceless religious vessel, a monstrance, pursuit of which cost his parents their lives and now threatens his daughter. McCann is plunged into the city’s underworld of drug-fuelled extreme nightlife in a desperate race against drug runners and obsessive religious art collectors who stop at nothing to acquire the monstrance, including murder.”

McGill was a prolific journalist and author of lively, popular Kiwi social histories before becoming a thriller writer. He has also written WHAKAARI, THE MONSTRANCE, and FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS, in terms of thriller or crime-centric novels. George Moore in the Sunday Star-Times in 1996 called WHAKAARI “a real ripper” of a thriller.

I have occasionally seen new copies of FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS kicking around in the odd bookstore, but McGill’s older novels like IN XTREMIS are generally harder to find - you’ll need to hit the libraries or second-hand bookstores (actual or online). McGill has also has a website and a blog, which you can check out here. I believe you may still be able to get new copies (signed by the author) from the website, of many of the books.

Do you like the sound of IN EXTREMIS? Have you read any of David McGill’s stories, crime fiction or otherwise? Thoughts welcome.


  1. Craig - Sounds interesting! And I am very, very impressed that you've been able to keep to your commitment to highlight Kiwi crime fiction during this meme. Good on you!

  2. I am not sure this one is for me, but as Margot says - your ability to come up with relevant Kiwi crime fiction every week proves your dedication :)