I really enjoyed reading this #1 bestseller recently. It's a fun story well told, with plenty to like. It's also great to see New Zealand writers from other genres giving crime fiction a go - we really are in the midst of a golden patch of local crime writing, with more authors joining the ranks. Long may it continue!
One quick note though - unfortunately there is an error in my review in the newspaper. I was informed after the review was submitted that Julie Thomas's first book, THE KEEPER OF SECRETS, is not in fact an historical romance - it is an historic drama, and not romance at all. It seems some early media coverage of that book mis-categorised it and that mistake was picked up and repeated in the years since by others, like myself, who had heard about the book without actually reading it ourselves. I apologise to Julie Thomas.
For you crime lovers, here's what I had to say about Thomas's first crime novel (I hope she writes more):
Blood, Wine & Chocolate by Julie Thomas (HarperCollins, 2015)
Waikato’s Julie Thomas proves she has a deft hand for multiple genres as she switches from historical fiction and spins an intriguing yarn in this, her first crime thriller. Described as “blackly comic”, it’s certainly a tale with moments dark and light, though comic is a stretch. Vinnie Whitney-Ross has found middle-aged bliss as a Waiheke Island winemaker married to his chocolatier sweetheart, and idyll a world away from his former life on the periphery of one of London’s most psychotic gangland families.
But his Kiwi dream was bought with the betrayal of a childhood pal who won’t forgive or forget, and soon Vinnie faces a collision between lives old and new. There will be blood… and wine, and chocolate. Thomas skillfully evokes the gritty violence of Vinnie’s East End life before switching gears as he moves from small-time hood to loved-up wine merchant. More a mixed case of quality quaffables than a Petrus, BLOOD, WINE & CHOCOLATE is an enjoyable and easy read.