Monday, June 18, 2012

HOS reviews: Eden, Hamilton, Symon

Crime picks

Craig Sisterson

Furt Bent from Aldaheit
By Jack Eden (Pear Jam Books, $19.99 print, $3.99 ebook)

This debut thriller from local writer Jack Eden was apparently inspired by the actions of some police officers during the Crewe murder inquiry and subsequent campaign to free Arthur Alan Thomas. A young Kiwi shaped by delinquency and imprisonment in Australia finds himself trying to unpick the cause célèbre conviction made by his childhood tormenter, an overly determined cop. Furt Bent from Aldaheit is packed with intriguing characters, and nicely mixes moments of darkness and humour as it hums along. A solid first effort that would entertain and delight many readers.

Misery Bay
By Steve Hamilton (Orion, $39.99)

For the first time in years, Edgar Award-winning author Hamilton returns to his series starring troubled ex-cop Alex McKnight. Still haunted by his own bloodstained past, McKnight finds himself investigating the suicide of a young student in the frozen wilderness of Michigan. What seems a simple quest to find answers for a grieving father turns into something far more sinister when the body count begins to rise. Misery Bay starts with a slow burn, but then builds into a gripping tale that intrigues as much with its characters as the events and twists that power the storyline and keep you turning the page.

The Faceless
By Vanda Symon (Penguin, $29.99)

Symon’s first standalone thriller sees the acclaimed Dunedin crime writer take a decidedly darker turn, delving into Auckland’s gritty underbelly. Bradley is an over-worked, under-appreciated office worker. A spontaneous tryst with Billy, a young hooker, turns ugly, and panicked, he imprisons her in an abandoned warehouse. Homeless Max is a disheveled shell of his former self. When Billy, his only friend, goes missing, he’s forced to reopen past wounds in an effort to save her. Symon balances the multiple perspectives and narratives adroitly, building tension, while touching on issues of homelessness, middle-class drudgery, loyalty, grief and loss, and how we’re surrounded by people we don’t really ‘see’. Tense and thought-provoking; highly recommended.

Craig Sisterson helped establish the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. He writes about crime and thriller fiction for several publications here and overseas, and blogs at

This crime and thriller round-up was published in the Sunday, 17 June 2012 issue of the Herald on Sunday newspaper, and is republished here online with the kind permission of Books Editor Nicky Pellegrino.

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