Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: August 2020

The Silence (August 2020)

By Susan Allott

August 11, 2020

It is 1997, and in a basement flat in London, Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in summer 1967, the Green’s next-door neighbor Mandy disappeared.  Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her: Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

The return to Sydney will plunge Isla deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side.  Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England – a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life.  Next door, Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve – a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job – is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns.  Could her father be capable of doing something terrible?  How much does her mother know?  What will happen to their family if Isla’s worst fears are realized?  And is there another secret in this community, once which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

the other passenger (August 2020)

By Louise Candlish

August 11, 2020

You’re feeling pretty smug about your commute to work by riverboat.  No more traffic gridlock or getting stuck on the tube in tunnels (you’re claustrophobic).  Now you’ve got fresh air, an iconic Thames view, a whole lifestyle upgrade.  You’ve made new friends on board – led by your hedonistic young neighbor, Kit – and just had your first official ‘water rats’ get-together.

The day after the drinks, Kit isn’t on the morning boat.  The river landmarks are all the same, but something’s off.  When you disembark, the police are waiting.  Kit’s wife, Melia, has reported him missing and another passenger saw you arguing on the last boat home after your drinks.  Police say you had reason to lash out at him.  To threaten him.

You protest.  You and Kit are friends – ask Melia, she’ll vouch for you.  And who exactly is pointing the finger?  What do they know about your private lives?

No, whatever coincidences might have occurred last night, you are innocent, totally innocent.

Aren’t you?

Mammoth (August 2020)

By Chris Flynn

August 11, 2020

Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct mammoth this is the (mostly) true story of how a collection of prehistoric creatures came to be on sale at a natural history auction in New York in 2007.  By tracing how and when these fossils were unearthed, Mammoth leads us on a funny and fascinating journey from the Pleistocene epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, revealing how ideas about science and religion have shaped our world.

With our planet on the brink of calamitous climate change, Mammoth scrutinizes humanity’s role in the destruction of the natural world while also offering a message of hope.

Under Occupation (August 2020)

By Alan Furst

August 11, 2020

The Master of the Historical Spy Novel

Occupied Paris, 1942

In the dark, treacherous city, the German occupying forces are everywhere – and so are French resistance fighters, working secretly to defeat Hitler.

Just before he dies, a man being chased by the Gestapo hands off a strange-looking document to the unsuspecting novelist Paul Ricard.

Drawn deeper and deeper into anti-German efforts, Ricard travels deep into enemy territory and along the escape routes of underground resistance safe houses, spying on Nazi manoeuvres.  And when he meets the mysterious and beautiful Leila, a professional spy, they begin to work together to get crucial information out of France and into the hands of Allied forces in London.

The Inner Darkness (August 2020)

By Jorn Lier Horst

August 11, 2020

After four years behind bars, notorious serial killer Thomas Kerr is ready to talk.  And Chief Inspector William Wisting has been waiting to listen.

Kerr has finally agreed to lead the police to his final victim’s grave.  But the expedition goes horribly wrong after his escape deep into the Norwegian forest.

Wisting must launch a frantic search to find this cold-blooded killer before he strikes again.

But the body of another woman, killed weeks before, has been found.  Murdered in the same way as Kerr’s victims.

Is there a copycat killer on the loose?

Has Kerr become a twisted role model for a second killer?  And if so, what might happen if master and apprentice unite?

As the clock counts down to the next murder, Wisting must put everything on the line to stop a terrifying evil before it strikes again.

Miss Benson’s Beetle (August 2020)

By Rachel Joyce

August 11, 2020

Margery Benson’s life ended the day her father walked out of his study and never came back.  Forty years later, abandoning a dull job, she advertises for an assistant.  The successful candidate is to accompany Margery on an expedition to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.  Enid Pretty is not who she had in mind.  But together they find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all Margery’s expectations, eventually finding new life at the top of a red mountain.

The Motion of the Body Through Space (August 2020)

By Lionel Shriver

August 11, 2020

Allergic to group activities of any kind, all her life Serenata has run, swum, and cycled – on her lonesome.  But now that she’s hit 60, all that physical activity has destroyed her knees.  As she contemplates surgery with dread, her previously sedentary husband Remington, recently and ignominiously redundant, chooses this precise moment to discover exercise.

Which should be good for his health, right?  Yet as he joins the cult of fitness that seems increasingly to consume the whole of the Western world, her once-modest husband burgeons into an unbearable narcissist.  Ignoring all his other obligations in the service of extreme sport, he engages a saucy, taunting personal trainer named Bambi, who treats his wife with contempt.  When Remington announces his intention to compete in a legendarily grueling triathlon, MettleMan, Serenata is sure he’s going to end up injured or dead – but the stubbornness of an aging man in Lycra is not to be underestimated.

The story of an obsession, of a marriage, of a betrayal: The Motion of the Body Through Space is Lionel Shriver at her hilarious, sharp-eyed, audacious best.

The Order (August 2020)

By Silva Daniel

August 11, 2020

Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon, has slipped into Venice for a much-needed holiday with his wife and two young children.  But when Pope Paul VII dies suddenly, Gabriel is summoned to Rome by the Holy Father’s loyal private secretary, Archbishop Luigi Donati.  A billion Catholic faithful have been told that the pope died of a heart attack.  Donati, however, has two good reasons to suspect his master was murdered.  The Swiss Guard who was standing watch the night of the pope’s death is missing.  So, too, is the letter the Holy Father was writing during the final hours of his life.  A letter that was addressed to Gabriel.

While researching in the Vatican Secret Archives, I came upon a most remarkable book…

The book is a long-suppressed gospel that calls into question the accuracy of the New Testament’s depiction of one of the most significant events in human history.  For that reason alone, the Order of St. Helena will stop at nothing to keep it out of Gabriel’s hands.  A shadowy Catholic society with ties to the European far right, the Order is plotting to seize control of the papacy.  And it is only the beginning…

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