Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: August 2023

Grave Expectations (August 2023)

By Alice Bell

August 29, 2023

Claire and Sophie aren’t your typical murder investigators…

When thirtysomething freelance medium Claire Hendricks is invited to an old university friend’s country pile to provide entertainment for a family party, her best friend Sophie tags along.  In fact, Sophie rarely leaves Claire’s side, because she’s been haunting her ever since she was murdered at the age of seventeen.

On arrival at The Cloisters, it quickly becomes clear that this family is hiding more than just the good china, as Claire realizes someone had recently met an untimely end at the house.

Teaming up with the least unbearable members of the Wellington-Forge family – depressive ex-cop Basher and teenage radical Alex – Claire and Sophie determine to figure out not just whodunnit, but who they killed, why and when.

Together they must race against incompetence to find the murderer – before the murderer finds them.

A Murder is Announced (August 2023)

By Agatha Christie

August 29, 2023

An ordinary village a shocking announcement

One morning the villagers of Chipping Cleghorn wake to find a strange notice in their papers:  A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm.

Suspecting this is just a joke they gather for some evening entertainment.

Then a gunshot is heard.

In desperation, the police turn to an old lady whose hobbies are gardening, gossiping – and solving murders.

After all, old ladies know better than anyone exactly what goes on in quiet English villages.

Dead Water (August 2023)

By Ann Cleeves

August 29, 2023

The Fifth Shetland Novel

A journalist working a story.  Now his murder is a headline…

When the body of a journalist is found in a traditional Shetland boat, Detective Inspecter Willow Reeves is drafted in to head up the investigation.

Jimmy Perez had been out of the loop, but his local knowledge is needed and he decides to help the inquiry.  Originally a Shetlander, the journalist had left the islands years before to make a name for himself in London, leaving a scandal in his wake.  He had few friends in Shetland, so why was he back?

When Willow and Jimmy dig deeper, they realize the journalist was chasing a story that many Shetlanders didn’t want to come to the surface.  One that must have been significant enough to kill him for…

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder (August 2023) – Athenaeum Book Club 2024

By David Grann

August 29, 2023

From the international bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon, a mesmerising story of shipwreck, survival and savagery, culminating in a court-martial that revels a shocking truth.

On 28 January 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil.  Inside were thirty emaciated men, barely alive, and they had an extraordinary tale to tell.  They were survivors of His Majesty’s Ship the Wager, which had left England two years earlier on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain and had been wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia.  The men, after being marooned for months, built the flimsy craft and sailed for more than a hundred days, traversing nearly 3,000 miles of storm-wracked seas.  They were greeted as heroes.

Six months later, another even more decrepit craft landed on the coast of Chile.  This boat contained just three castaways and they told a very different story.  The thirty sailors who had landed in Brazil were not heroes – they were mutineers.  As accusations of treachery and murder flew, the Admiralty convened a court-martial to determine who was telling the truth.  The stakes were life-and-death – for whomever the court found guilty could hang.

The Wager is a grand tale of human behaviour at the extremes told by one of our greatest non-fiction writers.  As always with Grann’s work, the incredible twists of the narrative hold the reader spellbound.  Most powerfully, he unearths the deeper meanings of the events, showing it was not only the Wager’s captain and crew who were on trail – it was the very idea of empire.

Everyone Here Is Lying (August 2023)

By Shari Lapena

August 29, 2023

Welcome to Stanhope – a place for families.

William Wooler is a family man, on the surface.  But he’s been having an affair – an affair that ended horribly this afternoon at a motel up the road.  So when he returns to his house, devastated and angry to find his difficult nine-year-old daughter Avery unexpectedly home from school, William loses his temper.

Hours later, Avery’s family declares her missing.

Suddenly Stanhope doesn’t feel so safe.  And William isn’t the only one on his street who’s hiding a lie.  As witnesses come forward with information that may or not be true, Avery’s neighbours become increasingly unhinged.

Who took Avery Wooler?  Nothing will prepare you for the truth.

The Waters (August 2023)

By Carl Nixon

August 29, 2023

One family

Forty years.

The Waters kinds – practical athletic Mark; the physically beautiful dreamer Davey; and the baby of the family Samatha – have to face more than their fair share of challenges.  1979 was the year their father sold the farm and invested all the family’s money in a doomed property development next to the ocean in Christchurch.  Is that when everything started going wrong?

Will their bond survive the passage of time or will the three siblings succumb to their parents’ legacy of failure?  Can the past be overcome…and forgiven?

SAS Rogue Heroes (August 2023)

By Ben Macintyre

August 29, 2023

In the summer of 1941, at the height of the war in the Western Desert, a bored and eccentric young officer, David Stirling, came up with a plan that was radical and entirely against the rules: a small undercover unit that would inflict mayhem behind enemy lines.

Despite intense opposition, Winson Churchill personally gave Stirling permission to recruit the toughest, brightest and most ruthless soldiers he could find.  So began the most celebrated and mysterious military organization in the world: the SAS.

It was 75 years later that the SAS finally decided to tell its astonishing story.  It opened its secret archives for the first time, granting the acclaimed historian Ben Macintrye full access to a treasure trove of unseen reports, memos, diaries, letters, maps and photographs, as well as free rein to interview surviving Originals and those who knew them.

Tom Lake (August 2023)

By Ann Patchett

August 29, 2023

This is a story about Peter Duke who went on to be a famous actor.

This is a story about falling in love with Peter Duke who wasn’t famous at all.

It’s about falling so wildly in love with him – the way one will at twenty-four – that it felt like jumping off a roof at midnight.

There was no way to foresee the mess it would come to in the end.

It’s spring and Lara’s three grown daughters have returned to the family orchard.  While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the one story they’ve always longed to hear – of the film star with whom she shared a stage, and a romance years before.

Both hopeful and elegiac, Tom Lake explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart.

Lioness (August 2023)

By Emily Perkins

August 29, 2023

You know now we say we devoured  a story, and also that we were consumed by it?  Eating and being eaten.  It was like that with Claire, for me.

From humble beginnings, Therese has grown used to a life of luxury after marrying into an empire-building family.  But when rumours of corruption gather around her husband’s latest property development, Therese begins to look at her privileged world with new eyes.

In the flat below, something else is brewing.  Therese’s neighbour Claire believes she’s discovered the secret to living with freedom and authenticity, freeing herself from the mundanity of domesticity.  Therese is enchanted by the lure of the permissive zone Claire creates – a place of ecstatic release.

All too quickly, Therese is forced to confront herself and her choices – just how did she become this person.  And what should she do about it?

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