Monday, May 28, 2012

Book launch: BODY ON THE STAGE

On Saturday night, in amongst all the deadline-related work and marathon training, I managed to get along to the Pumphouse Theatre on the North Shore to celebrate the launch of local writer Bev Robitai's third crime/thriller novel, BODY ON THE STAGE. It was great to see a big crowd there - and it was a very fun book launch, with theatrical and dance performances, as well as Robitai (pictured right) reading an intriguing and funny passage from her latest theatrical murder mystery.

BODY ON THE STAGE, which is available in ebook form and print-on-demand, is the second in Robitai's 'theatre mystery' series, following MURDER IN THE SECOND ROW.

On stage, Robitai mentioned that her favourite crime writers were Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh - which makes sense, as Robitai's style is more of a 'modern cosy' than the darker serial killer tales that fill many crime fiction shelves nowadays. Lots of mystery and intriguing characters, with little to no gruesome violence. Plus, of course, Dame Ngaio was heavily involved in the theatre, and set several of her acclaimed Inspector Alleyn tales in that very setting.

In BODY ON THE STAGE, Dennis Dempster has let himself go. Living alone, he has put on weight and retreated from life, but thanks to his sister's nagging, that's about to change. He joins the theatre group, which happens to be staging a production of Ladies Night (a famous play about male strippers, that inspired the producers of the film The Full Monty) and gets swept up in the world of gyms, muscle-building and fitness. In the course of his transformation, Dennis finds new friends. He finds love. And then he finds a dead body...

I thoroughly enjoyed MURDER IN THE SECOND ROW (see my review here), so I'm looking forward to giving BODY ON THE STAGE a read. The passage Robitai read, about when Dennis goes to the gym for the first time, was certainly quite compelling and amusing.

As well as being a talented storyteller, Robitai is also becoming quite a positive force for a large group of local writers, helping them get published online on websites such as Smashwords, along with getting print-on-demand hard copies of their books (and getting them professional edited, raising the standards, etc). It's great to see creative people getting their stuff out their in the world for people to read and see etc. It was a lot of fun to be at the book launch on Saturday, to be in a room of positive, interesting people to celebrate creativity.

I also had the added pleasure of catching up with an old friend, Grae Burton, who performed a piece from his acclaimed one-man play, Coffee with Eelco, which is about a colourful and iconic cafe owner from my hometown of Nelson. It was rather bizarre chatting to 'Eelco' during the night - Grae does a great job with the voice, accent and mannerisms (pictured left). I'm looking forward to seeing the full show at the Pumphouse in August.

All in all, it was a terrific night - several dozen people had a wonderful time, the energy was palpable, and lots of books were bought and signed. It's great to see local grass-roots crime writing in such good health.

You can read the Mysteries in Paradise review of MURDER IN THE SECOND ROW here, and the Reactions to Reading review here.

You can buy an e-version of BODY ON THE STAGE here (and at only US$2.99, it's a bargain for those overseas readers who sometimes find it hard to source Kiwi crime fiction at reasonable prices).


  1. Unfortunately for us in the UK, digital (kindle format) books from Aus/NZ seem to be equated with US Amazon and not the UK site. We can sometimes get print books (either anyway or via second-hand sellers) via Amazon UK but rarely digital per se.

  2. You're right Maxine - there are territorial issues at times with Kiwi books. Fortunately, in this case you can purchase BODY ON THE STAGE in a wide variety of ebook formats from Smashwords, even a .pdf to open and read on a laptop etc. So this one seems openly available to anyone worldwide.