Monday, August 1, 2011


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-known newspapers. I'm very pleased to be able to contribute in my small way to getting crime fiction into the books sections of some local media.

My sixth 'column' was published yesterday, in the new 'Living' magazine supplement to the newspaper. I actually wrote this column a few weeks ago, but a change in the format meant things were delayed for a while - I should be back on a monthly basis from now on, hopefully.

Book Watch

Iron House
By John Hart (John Murray, $34.99)
Lawyer turned author Hart doesn’t write breezy ‘airport thrillers’; his award-winning ‘southern gothic’ tales are multi-layered examinations of human nature, packed with authentic, deeply damaged, characters, throat-grabbing tension, and exquisitely drawn settings. Feared mob enforcer Michael clawed his way up from a traumatic childhood, but is now trying to escape his violence-filled life, for love and his unborn child. Escaping to North Carolina, he finds his long-estranged, mentally disturbed brother is in just as much trouble, and that neither can escape their past. Superior storytelling.

Lethal Deliveries
By Ken Benn (Penguin, $26)
Deservedly shortlisted for the LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award, this gritty first instalment in Palmerston North teacher Benn’s planned trilogy follows a group of teens facing plenty of tough circumstances and troubling issues; bullying, gangs, drugs, and youth crime. Benn skillfully builds tension as he switches perspectives amongst several intriguing characters, although inline hockey player Rochelle, whose brother Jack is being dragged into his father’s gang, is the main ‘heroine’. Bluntly dealing with realities some Kiwi kids face; a very good read that will leave you on tenterhooks for book two.

Carte Blanche
By Jeffery Deaver (H& S Fiction, $39.99)
This latest 007 novel should please fans of both Ian Fleming and popular psychological thriller writer Deaver, who was tasked with bringing Bond into the 21st century. Intercepted electronic info about an imminent attack that could kill thousands has Bond scrambling from Serbia to Dubai to Cape Town to discover who, what, and where in order to prevent calamity. Packed with pace, action, and intrigue. Deaver brilliantly melds tradition (fast cars, gadgets, repellant villains), modernity (a more reflective Bond, more rounded female characters), and his own twist-filled storytelling style.

The Wreckage
By Michael Robotham (Sphere, $39.99)
Award-winning Australian author Robotham steps away from his usual claustrophobic thrillers to pen a broader tale of global intrigue that intersects the war in Iraq and the global financial crisis. A tale of four people; a journalist who uncovers missing millions in war funding, a US accountant, ex-cop Vincent Ruiz, and a petty thief who stole a notebook from a banker who’s gone missing. Robotham’s most ambitious novel crackles with pithy description, insights and observations in amongst its compelling storyline; he’s added his name to those near the very top of the crime-writing tree.

Craig Sisterson helped establish the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel last year, and is a judge for the 2011 Award.  He blogs about crime and thriller fiction at


This column was first published in the Herald on Sunday on 31 July 2011, and is reprinted here with permission.


What do you think of my mini-reviews? Have you read (or do you intend to) any of these titles? What are some of the upcoming titles I should definitely include in future columns? Comments welcome

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