Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

First Response

By Stephen Leather

July 1, 2016

Reviewed Wireless Books Otago Access Radio

London is under siege.

Nine men in suicide vests primed to explode hold hostages in nine different locations around the city, and are ready to die for their cause.

Their mission: to force the government to release jihadist prisoners from Belmarsh Prison.

Their deadline: 6pm.  Today.

But the bombers are cleanskins, terrorists with no obvious link to any group, and who do not appear on any anti-terror watch list.  What has brought them together on this one day to act in this way?

Mo Kamran is the superintendent in charge of the Special Crime and Operations branch of the Met.  As the disaster unfolds and the SAS, armed police, and other emergency services rush to the scenes, he is tasked with preventing the biggest terrorist outrage the capital has ever known.

But nothing is what it seems.  Any only Kamran has the big picture.  Will anyone believe him?

The Waters of Eternal Youth

By Donna Leon

July 1, 2016

Reviewed Wireless Books Otago Access Radio

In The Waters of Eternal Youth, the twenty-fifth instalment in the bestselling Burnetti series, our Commissario finds himself drawn into a case that may not be a crime at all.

Brunetti is investigating a cold case by request of the grand Contessa Lando-Continui, a friend of Brunetti’s mother-in-law.  Fifteen years ago the Contessa’s teenage granddaughter, Manuela, was found drowning in a canal.  She was rescued at the last moment, but in many ways it was too late; she suffered severe brain damage and her life was never the same again.  Once a passionate horse rider, Manuela, now aged thirty, cannot remember the accident, or her beloved horse, and lives trapped in an eternal youth.

The Contessa, unconvinced that this was an accident, implores Brunetti to find the culprit she believes was responsible for ruining Manuela’s life.  Out of a mixture of curiosity, pity and a willingness to fulfil the wishes of a loving grandmother, Brunetti reopens the case.  But once he starts to investigate, Brunetti finds a murky past and a dark story at its heart.

The Waters of Eternal Youth is awash in the rhythms and concerns of contemporary Venetian life, from historical preservation, to housing, to new waves of African migrants, all circling the haunting story of a woman trapped in a perpetual childhood.

Blood Wedding

By Pierre Lemaitre

July 1, 2016

Sophie is haunted by the things she cannot remember – and visions from the past she will never forget.

One morning, she wakes to find that the little boy in her care is dead.

She has no memory of what happened.  And whatever the truth, her side of the story is no match for the evidence amassed against her.

Her only hiding place is in a new identity.  A new life, with a man she has met online.

But Sophie is not the only one keeping secrets…

The Sudden Appearance of Hope

By Claire North

July 1, 2016

Reviewed Wireless Books Otago Access Radio

My name is Hope Arden.  I am the girl the world forgets.

It started when I was sixteen years old.

A father forgetting to drive me to school.  A mother setting the table for three, not four.  A friend who looks at me and sees a stranger.

No matter what I do, the words I say, the crimes I commit – you will never remember who I am.

That makes my life tricky.  It also makes me dangerous…

The Sudden Appearance of Hope is the tale of a girl no one remembers, yet her story will stay with you for ever.

The Teddy Bear’s Ribbon & Other Tales

By E.R. Nye

July 1, 2016

Reviewed Wireless Books Otago Access Radio

In this series of adventures Sherlock Holmes and his friend and chronicler Dr Watson solve not only the mystery of the homely teddy bear and it’s role as courier in a spy ring but a number of other crimes.  Thus the pair shed new light on an old grave robbery in seventeenth century Sweden.

Holmes takes on an unexpected role in outwitting a con man who sees Watson as a gullible victim for a plausible swindle.  They venture into international intrigue and the shadowy world of an Italia secret society as well as solving other puzzles, such as the terrible threat of the Giant Rat of Sumatra.

This Must Be the Place

By Maggie O'Farrell

July 1, 2016

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life.

A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.

He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home.  Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

This Must Be the Place crosses continents and time zones, giving voice to a diverse and complex cast of characters.  At its heart, it is an extraordinary portrait of a marriage, the forces that hold it together and the pressures that drive it apart.

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 – Athenaeum Book Club

By Lionel Shriver

May 1, 2016

Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

It is 2029.

The Mandibles have been counting on a sizeable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies.  Yet America’s soaring national debt has grown so enormous that it can never be repaid.  Under siege from an upstart international currency, the dollar is in meltdown.  A bloodless world war will wipe out the savings of millions of American families.

Their inheritance turned to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also – as the effects of the downturn start to hit – the challenge of sheer survival.

Recently affluent Avery is petulant that she can’t buy olive oil, while her sister Florence is forced to absorb strays into her increasingly cramped household.  As their father Carter fumes at having to care for his demented stepmother now that a nursing home is too expensive, his sister Nollie, an expat author, returns from abroad at 73 to a country that’s unrecognizable.

Perhaps only Florence’s oddball teenage son Willing, an economics autodidact, can save this formerly august American family from the streets.

This is not science fiction.  This is a frightening, fascinating, scabrously funny glimpse into the decline that may await the United States all too soon, from the pen of perhaps the most consistently perceptive and topical author of our times.

The Death of an Owl – Athenaeum Book Club

By Paul Torday with Piers Torday

May 1, 2016

Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

Andrew Landford is driving home one night along a dark country lane, when a barn owl flies into his windscreen.  It is an accident, nothing more.  However, Andrew is in line to be the country’s next prime minister.  And he has recently been appointed to a parliametary committee concerned with the Wildlife and Countryside Act.  Barn owls are a protected species, and it is a crime to kill one.  If Andrew acknowledges that he has killed the owl, he could be risking his political career.

With Andrew in the car is his old Oxford friend and political adviser, Charles Fryerne.  An expert in communications, Charles has just joined the team that is masterminding Andrew’s route to the Tory Party leadership, and from there to No. 10 Downing Street.  He has spent many years quietly building up a very successful career as a strategist.

But the death of the owl threatens to destroy not onlly Andrew’s career, but everything that Charles has worked for too.  Should they come clean, or hide the story and hope it goes away?

Twister – Athenaeum Book Club

By Jane Woodham

May 1, 2016

Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

Dunedin, in thegrip of an unseasonal flu, is a city under siege.  Then after five damaging days of rain, a twister rips through, exposing the body of a missing schoolgirl in Ross Creek.

Detective Senior Sergeant Leo Judd is the only one who can lead the investigation, depite unresolved sorrow over the disappearance of his own daughter nine years earleir.

Sultry weather broods over the beleaguered city as suspects are sifted and pressure mounts for Judd to solve the crime.  Meanwhile his wife, Kate, tries to find the courage she needs to tell him the secrets she’s been nursing for too long – including one about the disappearance of their belived Beth.

The Living and the Dead in Winsford (December 2018) – Athenaeum Book Club

By Hakan Nesser

December 1, 2015

Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

Winner of the Rosenkrantz Award for Best Thriller of the year.

There is nobody in the whole world who knows that we are here…

A woman arrives in the village of Winsford on Exmoor.  She has travelled a long way and chosen her secluded cottage carefully.  Maria’s intention is to outlive her beloved dog, Castor.  And to survive the torrent of memories that threaten to overwhelm her.

Weeks before, Maria and her husband Martin fled Stockholm under a cloud.  The couple were bound for Morocco, where Martin planned to write an explosive novel; one that would reveal the truth behind dark events within his commune of writers decades before.  But the couple never made it to their destination.

As Maria settles into her lonely new life, walking the wild, desolate moors, it becomes clear that Winsford isn’t quite the sanctuary she thought it would be.  While the long, dark evenings close in and the weather worsens, strange things begin to happen around her.  But what terrible secrets is Maria guarding?  And who is trying to find her?

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required