Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

The Dressmaker

By Rosalie Ham

March 1, 2016

In the 1950’s Tilly Dunnage returns to a small Victorian town to care for her mad old mother.  The townspeople drove her away many years ago, and she became an expert dressmaker in Paris.  Now she earns her living by making them exquisite frocks, while planning revenge.

The Dressmaker, a much loved Australian story you’ll never forget.  Now a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet.

Summer at Mount Hope

By Rosalie Ham

March 1, 2016

“A quirkily engaging comedy of small-town manners.  Set on a Victorian family vineyard in 1894, it’s the sort of provincial novel you might expect if Pride and Prejudice met Steele Rudd’s On Our Selection…
While it’s the social and romantic intrigue that carries the story, it’s Ham’s wickedly black humour and finely researched social observation that deliver the real joy of the book.”
The Australian

“Rosalie Ham’s second novel is as unforgettable and unputdownable as her first, the quirky The Dressmaker…  Ham is a gifted storyteller.  Her ideas are fresh, unusual and entertaining, and result in a marvellous story steeped in an Australia at once recognisable but also new.  There’s not a cliche within cooee.”
The Sun Herald

“Ham introduces an Austenesque cast of captivating characters… Summer at Mount Hope is a passionate tender story because it takes place in a world where sex is not fully described or admitted…”
Australian Book Review

The House on Cold Hill

By Peter James

March 1, 2016

Evil isn’t born it’s built …

Moving from the heart of Brighton and Hove to the Sussex countryside is a big undertaking for Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their twelve-year-old daughter Jade.  But when they view Cold Hill House – a huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion – Ollie is filled with excitement.  Despite the financial strain of the move, he has dreamed of living in the country since he was a child, and he sees Cold Hill House as a paradise for his animal-loving daughter, the perfect base for his web-design business and a terriffic long-term investment.  Caro is less certain, and Jade is grumpy about being separated from her friends.

Within days of moving in, it becomes apparent that the Harcourt family aren’t the only residents of the house.  A friend of Jade’s is the first to see the spectral woman, standing behind her as the girls talk on FaceTime.  Then there are more sightings, as well as increasingly disturbing occurrences in the house.  As the haunting becomes more malevolent and the house itself begins to turn on the Harcourts, the terrified family discover Cold Hill House’s dark history, and the horrible truth of what it could mean for them …

The Witness

By Simon Kernick

March 1, 2016

I had a simple choice.  Stay here, and almost certainly be discovered or get up and run!

The Witness
When Jane Kinnear sees her lover being murdered, she finds herself in extreme danger.  Taken to an anonymous police safe-house, it soon becomes clear that her lover was an MI5 informant with important information about an imminent terrorist attack.

The Detective
DI Ray Mason of Counter Terrorism Command is a man with a controversial past, but his effectiveness at getting results means that he’s now been given the task of preventing the attack from taking place.  But can he be trusted, and does he know more about the attack than he’s letting on?

The Killer

In the safe-house, Jane is trying to piece together a description of her lover’s killer.  But what she doesn’t know is that the killer has already found out who she is, and where she is hiding.

And now he is coming for her

The Secret Life and Curious Death of Miss Jean Milne

By Andrew Nicoll

February 1, 2016

A woman murdered
A crime unsolved
A mystery that has lasted a century

In the quiet seaside town of Broughty Ferry, all is not as it seems at Elmgrove, the mansion of wealthy spinster Miss Jean Milne.  When her tortured and horrifically murdered body is discovered lying in the hallway – her feet bound and her skull crushed – a killer must be found.  But nothing has been stolen, the doors and windows are all locked and there are no obvious suspects.

When Detective John Trench arrives to assist the local police, he finds a force determined to find someone – anyone – to take the blame.  And sensational newspaper headlines have the whole country in a frenzy.  But as the truth slowly begins to unravel, Trench discovers that the respectable Miss Milne has been leading a double life and that her frequent trips away from home mask an altogether different story.  Could this be the key to the mystery?

Based on a true story, this is a shocking tale of class division, money, sex, lies, betrayal and murder.  With new evidence from police files, at last the curious death of Miss Jean Milne may finally have found a solution.

Killing Monica

By Candace Bushnell

February 1, 2016

When P.J. Wallis, creator of peachy-skinned, button-nosed good-time girl Monica (of Monica: A Girl’s Guide to Being a Girl, its three sequels and four movies) was christened Pandemonia, someone must have been looking into a crystal ball.  She might have been born into faded elegance in a dilapidated mansion in the Hudson Valley, but after years of struggle, Pandy Wallis – the fabulously successful author – is cutting a swathe through Manhattan, leaving a trail of trashed pool clubs, shrieking girlfriends and empty pink-champagne bottles in her wake.  And then there are the men: if it’s not movie star Doug Stone, with his chiselled jaw and megawatt smile, it’s darkly glamorous celebrity chef husband Jonny Balaga, who brings some very specialised skills to Pandy’s table.

But as a Monica on Top billboard as big as Bergdorf Goodman raises its head above the New York skyline, all is not well in P.J. Wallis’s world.  Jonny Balaga has sunk his teeth into her earnings, her loyal agent Henry is losing patience and her soul sister, sidekick and saviour – actress SondraBeth Schnowzer (who also happens to play Monica) – has betrayed her.  Worst of all, though, P.J. Wallis has had enough of her lucrative alter ego.  Yearning to return to her roots, she dodges divorce lawyers, lighting strikes and a giant revolving Lazy Susan.  It begins to look like the only way out for Pandemonia is killing Monica – even if it kills her too.

Red Bones

By Ann Cleeves

February 1, 2016

Sometimes the dead won’t stay buried…

When an elderly woman is shot in a tragic accident, Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate.

The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people.  As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness have lasted for generations.

Then there’s another death, and, as the spring weather shrouds the island in claustrophobic mists, Jimmy must dig up old secrets to stop a new killer from striking again.

The Bitter Season

By Tami Hoag

February 1, 2016

It was a shocking crime.

A middle-aged couple, hacked to death in their own home – with a samurai sword.  Normal people.  Who were they?  Any why were they targeted?

It was a shocking crime.  But it wasn’t the first.

Twenty years ago a policeman was murdered in his own back garden and the killer was never caught.

One woman might link these mysteries.  But she is being watched.  Can Detectives Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac find her before it is too late?

In the Cold Dark Ground

By Stuart MacBride

February 1, 2016

Sergeant Logan McRae is in trouble…

His missing person investigation has just turned up a body in the woods – naked, hands tied behind its back, and a bin-bag duct-taped over its head.  The Major investigation Team charges up from Aberdeen, under the beady eye of Logan’s ex-boss Detective Chief Inspector Steel.  And, as usual, she wants him to do her job for her.

But it’s not going to be easy: a new Superintendent is on her way up from the Serious Organised Crime Task Force, hell-bent on making Logan’s life miserable; Professional Standards are gunning for Steel; and Wee Hamish Mowat, head of Aberdeen’s criminal underbelly, is dying – leaving rival gangs from all over the UK eyeing his territory.

There’s a war brewing and Logan’s trapped right in the middle, whether he likes it or not.

This Essentialism

By Greg McKeown

February 1, 2016

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin at home or at work?

Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilised?

Do you ever feel busy but not productive?

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly in motion, but never getting anywhere?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is becoming an Essentialist.

This is not a time-management strategy, but a systematic discipline you apply every time you are faced with a decision.  By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our choices so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

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