Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: June 2023

The Last Dance (June 2023)

By Mark Billingham

June 8, 2023

The first in a stunning new series

He’s a detective, a dancer, he has no respect for authority – and he’s the best hope Blackpool has for keeping criminals off the streets.  Meet Detective Decian Miller.

A double murder in a seaside hotel sees a grieving Miller return to work to solve what appears to be a case of mistaken identity.  Just why where two completely unconnected men taken out?

Despite a somewhat dubious relationship with both reality and his new partner, can the eccentric, offbeat Miller find answers where his colleagues have found only an impossible puzzle?


The Axeman’s Carnival (June 2023)

By Catherine Chidgey

June 8, 2023

Everywhere, the birds: sparrows and skylarks and thrushes, starlings and bellbirds, fantails and pipits – but above them all and louder, the magpies.  We are here and this is our tree and we’re staying and it is ours and you need to leave and now.

Tama is just a helpless chick when he is rescued by Marnie, and this is where his story might have ended.  ‘If it keeps me awake,’ says Marnie’s husband Rob, a farmer, ‘I’ll have to wring its neck.’  But with Tama came new possibilities for the couple’s future.  Tama can speak, and his fame is growing.  Outside, in the pines, his father warns him of the wickedness wrought by humans.  Indoors, Marnie confides in him about her violent marriage.  The more Tama sees, the more the animal and human worlds – and all of the precarity, darkness and hope within them – bleed into one another.  Like a stock truck filled with live cargo, the story moves inexorably towards its dramatic conclusion: the annual Axeman’s Carnival.

Part trickster, part surrogate child, part witness, Tama the magpie is the star of this story.  Though what he says aloud to humans is often nonsensical (and hilarious with it), the tale he tells us weaves a disturbingly human sense.  The Axeman’s Carnival is Catherine Chidgey and her finest – comic, profound, poetic and true.

4.50 From Paddington (June 2023)

By Agatha Christie

June 8, 2023

After a busy day Christmas shopping in London Mrs McGillicuddy settles into her first-class compartment for a relaxing trip to visit her friend Miss Marple.  Things go awry when she witnesses a murder on a passing train.  She informs the conductor but it is dismissed as the overactive imagination of a middle-aged woman.  Luckily Miss Marple knows Mrs McGillicuddy and that she is not prone to imagining things.

With Miss Marple on the case a ruthless and carefully planed murder will not be let to pass unrecorded.

Come Death and High Water (June 2023)

By Ann Cleeves

June 8, 2023

The picturesque, privately owned island of Gillibry, off the North Devon coast, turns out to be the perfect side for a murder…

A routine weekend visit by the Gillibry Bird Observatory Trust is made memorable by the owner’s announcement that he is going  to sell the island.  A sale would mean the end of the observatory, which, for some of the birders, makes life worth living.  A fire in Charlie Todd’s cottage adds to their distress.  And when, next morning, they find Charlie dead in a bird hide following a fierce storm, their pleasant September weekend assumes a dangerous new face.

Charlie Todd’s murder could have been the deed of any member of the trust.  And it falls to one of their own, George Palmer-Jones to unravel the identity of a killer within their midst…

… but I digress (June 2023)

By Lois Galer

June 8, 2023

If Lois Galer is remembered for one trait, it would be for being somewhat outspoken, particularly when it comes to protecting Dunedin’s rich historic heritage, about which Lois has written five books.  But there are other issues that have aroused her passion, too, like promoting equal opportunities and rights for women, and broadening the horizons of those who for generations have been hidden behind their aprons.

That she chose outside employment over schoolwork before she turned 15, was never a disadvantage to her.  She simply saw it as a chance to move onwards and upwards in her chosen fields, with motherhood neatly slotted between career changes.  As an only and lonely child, Lois was determined from the start that things would be different for her children.  She and her seafaring husband Bill had three daughters in under four years.  From then on life became a roller coaster of adventurers with travel, career changes and with another couple, a foray into the international business world with a cure for smelly feet!  Taking early retirement, the two moved to Central Otago to run a backpacker lodge and restore an early gold-miner’s cottage where Lois wrote her sixth book, Time to Smell the Roses.

In her memoir…but I digress Lois’s journey through life is largely centred on her love of Dunedin, its built heritage, its beauty and its social scene before TV, which will no doubt jog the memories of many of her contemporaries.

The Pimlico Murder (June 2023)

By Mike Hollow

June 8, 2023

Armistice Day, 1940.  The nation remembers the Great War while a new and harrowing conflict rumbles on.  The Blitz Detective, John Jago, must set aside his own painful memories to investigate a suspicious death in Pimlico, south-west London.  The body of a young man has been discovered in an Anderson shelter, with two white poppies in his pocket.

As the investigation progresses, Jago and his assistant, DC Cradock, find themselves knee-deep in the area’s shady underworld and connections with Mosley’s fascist party.  It will take all their skills to uncover the truth behind the young man’s brutal death.

The Joy and Light Bus Company (June 2023)

By Alexander McCall Smith

June 8, 2023

Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi, Gaborone’s No. 1 Lady Detectives, do not always agree on important issues – one being the complex male psyche.  Mma Ramotswe is reminded of this when her husband, J. L. B. Matekoni, is offered a daunting business oportunity: one which, if it fails, threatens their exisiting livelihood, including the detective agency.  Somehow, Precious must guide her husband to the right decision, while being mindful of how much he wants The Joy and Light Bus Company to succeed.

Meanwhile, there are other problems to solve.  A wealthy client’s elderly father has changed his will, making his devoted live-in nurse a significant beneficiary, and the ladies are tasked with uncovering the woman as a fraud.  And then there is the disturbing rumoured maltreatment of children living and working on a local farm, which Mma Ramotswe is determined to investigate.

Killing Moon (June 2023)

By Jo Nesbo

June 8, 2023

Two young women are missing.  Strangers to each other, but last seen at the same party.  When the body of one of them is found with fresh stitches along her hairline the hunt is on to find a murderer with particular tastes.

Catching this criminal calls for a detective with a very particular mind

Only Harry Hole can stop this ingenious psychopath.  But Harry is gone: struck off the force, down and out in LA.  It seems like nothing can entice him back to Oslo.  Until someone close to him comes under threat.

But there is more to this case than meets the eye, and the clock is ticking down to find the other missing girl before the body count rises.

This killer has got inside Harry’s head.  And now he’s coming for you.

About Time (June 2023)

By Jodi Taylor

June 8, 2023

Patience is not a virtue known to the Time Police.  And Commander Hay is facing the longest day of her life …

After their heroic efforts to safeguard the Acropolis and prevent the Paris Time-Stop, the Time Police have gone from zero to hero.  Then one fateful mission to apprehend a minor criminal selling dodgy historical artefacts blows up in all their faces.

An officer is attacked within TPHQ.  A prisoner is murdered.  And investigations are about to lead to the one place where no officer can legally tread.

Worst of all, trouble is brewing for Luke, Jan and Mathew as a shocking revelation threatens to tear Team Weird apart for good.

A Gentleman in Moscow (June 2023) – Athenaeum Book Club 2023

By Amor Towles

June 8, 2023

On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.  But instead of his usual suite, he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval.

Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?

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