Sunday, December 6, 2009

I is for Ian Sutherland

Continuing the fun series started by fellow Anzac book blogger Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, where each week bloggers from around the world write about a notable crime fiction novel or author (first name or surname) starting with a particular letter of the alphabet, this week is the turn of "I".

Given that in my "A" post I said I would regularly sprinkle my contributions with a New Zealand-related post or two, this week I am including a short post on Ian Sutherland, who wrote the thriller THE KEPLER DEAL (Hazard Press, 2002) after he retired from working life.

Ian Sutherland (1938-??)Ian Sutherland was born in 1938 and grew up in the north Waikato region of New Zealand, where his parents owned a dairy farm. He attended Ohinewai Primary School, in a small semi-rural community north of the small town of Huntly, before heading north to New Zealand’s biggest city (Auckland) to attend the prestigious King’s College. He was a member of Selwyn House from 1952-1955.

After finishing high school, Sutherland joined the ANZ Bank as a teenager, starting at the Huntly branch. He worked in a variety of towns and cities until he retired from ANZ almost forty years later, in 1995. Throughout his banking career, he had also written occasional newspaper and magazine articles.

In retirement, he turned his writing attention towards penning popular fiction, and had his first (and as far as I am aware, only) thriller, THE KEPLER DEAL, published by Hazard Press in 2002. At the time he and his wife Margaret lived in Milford on Auckland’s North Shore. I haven’t yet been able to find out any more information about Ian Sutherland, in terms of other writings, reviews (available online) of THE KEPLER DEAL, or what he has been up to since 2002. He would be 71 now (assuming he is still alive).

Reportedly THE KEPLER DEAL grew out of Sutherland’s love of the mountains and landscapes of New Zealand. I have recently sourced a copy via an online second-hand bookseller (adding to my quickly-burgeoning library of out-of-print and hard-to-find Kiwi crime and thriller titles), and am looking forward to reading it. The blurb on the back of the book states: “It is never a particularly good omen when a hit man is the man who is hit. So the discovery of the body of “security consultant”, Chang Chou, on the Kepler Track near Te Anau, has Detective Inspector Mark Trenwith more than just a little worried. The connections with Department of Conservation staff and the possibility that an Asian drug-dealing ring is involved only adds to his worries as he is led into an investigation which becomes more and more sinister.
From the remote wilderness of one of New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine tracks to popular tourist and coastal areas this is an action thriller that will engage the reader in a network of intrigue.”
For those of you not from New Zealand, the area around the Kepler Track is known as the “Southern Lakes” part of New Zealand, and is among the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. If any of you have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy, a fair chunk of some of those films was filmed near that area. So I am looking forward to seeing how Sutherland incorporates the spectacular scenery into his local thriller.

I will post a review of THE KEPLER DEAL in due course.

Unfortunately Christchurch-based Hazard Press, which was clearly one of the best supporters of local writers who wanted to pen ‘popular’ fiction, went into liquidation in 2007. Its sad demise cut off one of the best avenues for budding Kiwi ‘genre’ writers such as Sutherland. I’m not sure whether this had anything to do with Sutherland (apparently) never writing another book.

Several of the ‘forgotten’ local crime, thriller or mystery writers on my extended New Zealand writer sidebar to the right, had their one or two books published by Hazard Press. It was rather sad, during my research into Kiwi crime writing, to find a publisher like Hazard, with a surprisingly large array of Kiwi crime and thriller books (and authors), and then to quickly realise they are no longer in business. Such a shame – but I guess it’s the nature of the evolving books world.

Have any of you read THE KEPLER DEAL? Do you like to get your hands on such older, out-of-print or hard-to-find books from relatively unknown authors? Thoughts and comments welcome.


  1. No I haven't read it but it sounds good - I do like to find these sorts of things, especially as everything seems part of such big series these days and I quite like the idea of something that's a one-off.

  2. many thanks Craig - I've added it to summary page, and I see you've taken care of Mr. Linky