Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

Big Sky (July 2019)

By Kate Atkinson

July 16, 2019

The highly anticipated return of Jackson Brodie, ex-military, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, now private investigator, ‘a hero for men and women alike’  (The Times).

Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son Nathan and ageing Labrador Dido, both at the discretion of his former partner Julia.  It’s a picturesque setting, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for a suspicious wife, seems straightforward, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him across a sinister network – and back into the path of someone from his past.

Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking new novel, both sharply funny and achingly sad, by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.

Allegra in Three Parts (July 2019)

By Suzanne Daniel

July 16, 2019

I can split myself in two…something I have to do because of Joy and Matilde.  They are my grandmothers and I love them both and they totally love me but they can’t stand each other.

Eleven-year-old Allegra shuttles between her grandmothers who live next door to one another but couldn’t be more different.  Matilde works all hours and instils discipline, duty and restraint.  She insists that Allegra focus on her studies to become a doctor.

Meanwhile free-spirited Joy is full of colour, possibility and emotion, storing all her tears in little glass bottles.  She is riding the second wave of the woman’s movement in the company of her penny tortoise, Simone de Beauvoir, encouraging Ally to explore broad horizons and live her ‘true essence’.

And then there’s Rick who lives in a flat out the back and finds distraction in gambling and solace in surfing.  He’s trying to be a good father to Al Pal, while grieving the woman who links them all but whose absence tears them apart.

Allegra is left to orbit these three adult worlds wishing they loved her a little less and liked each other a lot more.  Until one day the unspoken tragedy which has created this division explodes within the person they all cherish most.

Conviction (July 2019)

By Denise Mina

July 16, 2019

It’s just a normal morning for Anna McDonald.  Gym kits, packed lunches, getting everyone up and ready.  Until she opens the front door to her best friend, Estelle.  Anna turns to see her own husband at the top of the stairs, suitcase in hand.  They’re leaving together and they’re taking Anna’s two daughters with them.

Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna can’t take it in.  With her world shattered, she distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast.  There’s a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean, multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption.  Then Anna realizes she knew one of the victims in another life.  She is convinced she knows what happened.  Her past, so carefully hidden until now, will no longer stay silent.

As she throws herself into investigating the case, little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

gravity is the thing (July 2019)

By Jaclyn Moriarty

July 16, 2019

Abigail Sorensen has spent her life trying to unwrap the events of 1990.

It was the year she started receiving random chapters from a self-help book called The Guidebook in the post.

It was also the year Robert, her brother, disappeared on the eve of her sixteenth birthday.

She believes the absurdity of The Guidebook and the mystery of her brother’s disappearance must be connected.

Now 35, owner of the Happiness Cafe and mother of four-year-old Oscar, Abigail has been invited to learn the truth behind The Guidebook at an all-expenses-paid retreat.

What she finds will be unexpected, life-affirming and heartbreaking.

The Nancys (July 2019)

By R. W. R. McDonald

July 16, 2019

Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager.  Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum’s on a cruise.

Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted.  She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery.  When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived.  She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club.

But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous.  A wrongful arrest, a close call with the murderer, and an intervention from Tippy’s mum all conspire against The Nancys.  But regardless of their own safety, and despite the constant distraction of questionable fashion choices in the town that style forgot, The Nancys know only they can stop the killer from striking again.

The Nancys is gripping and glorious, a heartwarming novel for anyone who’s ever felt they were on the outside looking in.  At its heart it is about the family we make and how we must summon the courage to face the truth, no matter what the cost may be.

Some Other Country New Zealand’s Best Short Stories (July 2019)

By ed Marion McLeod and Bill Manhire

July 16, 2019

First published in 1984, Some Other Country quickly become established as New Zealand’s essential single volume anthology of short stories, and has since been enjoyed by many thousands of visitors, students and readers of all kinds.  Now this fourth edition adds six new writers, bringing the collection completely up to date with the diverse energies of New Zealand life and writing.

The country to be found in these pages is not the place depicted in glossy picture books or economic profiles.  But it is a real place, composed of the blend of accuracy and vision which only the imagination, committed to language and experience, can supply.  It is the New Zealand of Janet Frame and Katherine Mansfield, of Frank Sargeson and Maurice Gee, of Witi Ihimaera and Patricia Grace.

Some Other Country is a collection of stories from the body of New Zealand writing that began with the work of the young expatriate writer, Katherine Mansfield.  It includes well-known stories by major writers including Vincent O’Sullivan, Joy Cowley, C. K. Stead, Owen Marshall and Keri Hulme, alongside stories by writers who have come into prominence in the last 20 years, such as Barbara Anderson, Fiona Farrell, Emily Perkins, Damien Wilkins, Charlotte Grimshaw and Alice Tawhai.

Some Other Country represents the editors’ choice of simply ‘the best we could find’.

The Scholar (July 2019)

By Dervla McTiernan

July 16, 2019

When Dr Emma Sweeney stumbles across the victim of a hit-and-run outside Galway University late one evening, she calls her partner, Detective Cormac Reilly, bringing him to the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him.

A security card in the dead woman’s pocket identifies her as Carline Darcy, a gifted student and heir apparent to Irish pharmaceutical giant Darcy Therapeutics.  The multi-billion-dollar company, founded by her grandfather, sponsors university research facilities and has funded Emma’s own ground-breaking work.  The inquiry into Carline’s death promises to be high profile and high pressure.

As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and, increasingly, to Emma herself.  Cormac’s running of the case comes under scrutiny, and he is forced to question his own objectivity.  Could his loyalty to Emma have led him to overlook evidence?  Has it made him a liability?

The Ruin (July 2019)

By Dervla McTiernan

July 16, 2019

Galway 1993: Young Garda Cormac Reilly is called to a scene he will never forget.  Two silent, neglected children – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack – are waiting for him at a crumbling country house.  Upstairs, their mother lies dead.

Twenty years later, a body surfaces in the icy black waters of the River Corrib.  At first it looks like an open-and-shut case, but then doubt is cast on the investigation’s findings – and the integrity of the police.  Cormac is thrown back into the cold case that has haunted him his entire career – what links the two deaths, two decades apart:  As he navigates his way through police politics and the ghosts of the past, Detective Reilly uncovers shocking secrets and finds himself questioning who among his colleagues he can trust.

What really happened in that house where he first met Maude and Jack?  The Ruin draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t.

The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective (July 2019)

By Susannah Stapleton

July 16, 2019

For more than thirty years, Maud West ran a detective agency in London, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest on 1905.  A tireless self-publicist, Maud’s exploits grabbed headlines around the world – a woman, solving crimes, how could they not?  But, in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity.  And – as Susannah Stapleton reveals – she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.

Who was Maud?  And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the golden age of crime?

In this enthralling true story.  Stapleton interweaves tales from Maud’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research, forensically examining the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth.

With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and continental blackmailers.  The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century.

And So It Begins (June 2019)

By Rachel Abbott

July 2, 2019

Where does murder begin?  When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence?

Cleo knows she should be happy for her brother Mark.  He’s managed to find someone new after the sudden death of his first wife – but something about Evie just doesn’t feel right…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned.  Could Mark be causing her injuries?  Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

And as Evie stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?

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