Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: December 2023

The Edge (December 2023)

By David Baldacci

December 11, 2023

A Brutal Murder

Retired from the Army’s most prestigious special ops force.  Travis Devine is now part of an elite undercover team in Homeland Security.  But when he’s brought in by agent Emerson Campbell to investigate the murder of a young woman, he quickly learns that this case is more personal than most.

A Small Town

Four days earlier, Jennifer Silkwell was found dead on the rocks of the Maine coastline.  A high-ranking analyst for the CIA, she had knowledge of national security secrets that would be valuable to a number of enemies.  And her senator father once saved Emerson Campbell’s life.

A Big Secret

Knowing how much is riding on the case.  Devine packs his bags and heads for the small town of Putnam in Maine.  But small towns can harbour big secrets, and not everyone wants to share them with outsiders.  Not when there’s a killer on the loose …

Better the Blood (December 2023)

By Michael Bennett

December 11, 2023

A Detective in Search of the Truth.
A Killer in Search of Retribution.
You Can’t Hide from History.

Detective Senior Sergeant Hana Westerman is a tenacious Maori detective juggling single motherhood and the pressures of her career in Auckland’s Central Investigation Branch.  When she’s led to a crime scene by a mysterious video, she discovers a man hanging in a hidden room.  With little to go on, Hana knows one thing: the killer is sending her a message.

As a Maori officer, there has always been a clash between duty and culture for Hana, but it is something that she’s found a way to live with.  Until now.  When more murders follow, Hana realises that her heritage and past are the keys to finding the perpetrator.  Especially when the killer’s agenda of revenge may include Hana – and her family …

Water (December 2023) Athenaeum Book Club 2024

By John Boyne

December 11, 2023

The first thing Vanessa Carvin does when she arrives on the island is change her name.  To the locals, she is Willow Hale, a solitary outsider escaping Dublin to live a hermetic existence in a small cottage – not a notorious woman on the run from her past.

But scandals follow like hunting dogs.  And she has some questions of her own to answer.  If her ex-husband is really the monster everyone says he is, then how complicit was she in his crimes?

Escaping her old life might seem like a good idea, but the choices she has made through0ut her marriage have consequences.  Here, on the island, Vanessa must reflect on what she did – and did not do.  Only then can she discover whether she is worthy of finding any peace.

Like the best novelists, John Boyne shines a light in dark places and forces us to confront the many conflicting truths which contribute to the boundless complexity that is human nature.

His Favourite Graves (December 2023)

By Paul Cleave

December 11, 2023

Acacia Pines, USA.  Sheriff Cohen’s life is falling apart – his father accidentally burned down the retirement home, his wife has moved out, and his son is bullying other kids at school.

When high-school student Lucas Connor is abducted, Cohen sees a chance to get his life back on track – to win back his wife and scoop the reward money on offer.

But as the body count rises, it becomes clear that Cohen is going to have to make the kind of decision from which there’s no coming back … a decision with deadly consequences …

The Seventh Son (December 2023)

By Sebastian Faulks

December 11, 2023

A child will be born who will change everything.

When young American academic Talissa Adam offers to carry another woman’s child, she has no idea of the life-changing consequences.

Behind the doors of the Parn Institute, a billionaire entrepreneur plans to stretch the boundaries of ethics as never before.  Through a series of IVF treatments, which Parn hope to keep secret, they propose an experiment that will upend the human race as we know it.

Seth, the baby, is delivered to hopeful parents Mary and Alaric, but when his differences start to mark him out from his peers, he begins to attract unwanted attention.

The Seventh Son is a spectacular examination of what it is to be human.  It asks the question: just because you can do something, does it mean you should?  Sweeping between New York, London and the Scottish Highlands, this is an extraordinary novel about unrequited love and unearned power.

The Crewe Murders (December 2023)

By Kirsty Johnston & James Hollings

December 11, 2023

The murder of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe in their Pukekawa farmhouse in 1970 remains New Zealand’s most infamous cold case.

It spawned two trials, two appeals, several books, a film, and eventually a royal commission finding of police corruption.

It also resulted in a free pardon, the only time the New Zealand government has bypassed the courts to set a convicted murderer free.

And still, the Crewe’s killer has not been found.

Combining gripping narrative, detailed research and striking new testimony from those who were there, this book tells the complete story of the case for the first time.

The Dictionary People (December 2023)

By Sarah Ogilvie

December 11, 2023

What do three murderers, Karl Marx’s daughter, and a vegetarian vicar have in common?

They all helped create the Oxford English Dictionary.

The Oxford English Dictionary has long been associated with elite institutions and Victorian men; its longest-serving editor, James Murray, devoted thirty-six years to the project, as far as the letter T.  But the Dictionary didn’t just belong to the experts; it relied on contributions from members of the public.  By the time it was finished in 1928 its 414,825 entries had been crowdsourced from a surprising and diverse group of people, from archaeologists and astronomers to murders, naturists, novelists, pornographers, queer couples, suffragists, vicars and vegetarians.

Lexicographer Sarah Ogilvie dives deep into previously untapped archives to tell a people’s history of the OED.  She traces the lives of thousands of contributors who defined the English language, from the eccentric autodidacts to the family groups who made word-collection their passion.  With generosity and brio, Ogilvie reveals, for the first time, the full story of the making of one of the most famous books in the world – and celebrates to sparkling effect the extraordinary efforts of the Dictionary People.

The Future Future (December 2023)

By Adam Thirlwell

December 11, 2023

A wild story of female friendship, language and power, from France to colonial America to the moon, from 1775 to this very moment: a historical novel like no other

It’s the eighteenth century, and Celine is in trouble.  Her husband is mostly absent.  Her parents are elsewhere.  And meanwhile men are inventing stories about her – about her affairs, her sexuality, her orgies and addictions.  All these stories are lies, but the public loves them – spreading them like a virus.  Celine can only watch as her name becomes a symbol for everything rotten in society.

This is a world of decadence and saturation, of lavish parties and private salons, of tulle and satin and sex and violence.  It’s also one ruled by men – high on colonial genocide, natural destruction, crimes against women and, above all, language.  To survive, Celine and her friends must band together in search of justice, truth and beauty.

Fantastical, funny and blindingly bright.  The Future Future follows one woman on an urgently contemporary quest to clear her name and change the world.

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