Dunedin Athenaeum & Mechanics Institute

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Recent books

We have changed the New Books section to Recent Books and the books will be displayed for a longer period just in case you forget to make a note of what you want to read the first time you read about it. 

We hope you like the new format.

The Pharaoh's Secret by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown (June 2017)

The Pharaoh's Secret by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown (June 2017)The City Of the Dead, Egypt 1353 BC
Buried deep beneath the Saharan desert is a secret - an ancient elixir so powerful that it is rumoured to take life from the living and restore it to the dead.

Lumpedusa, Present Day
Off a remote island, a mysterious ship releases a deadly poison.  Minutes later, everyone on the island is dead.
Responding to a distress call, Kurt Austin and the NUMA team struggle to understand what has caused this disaster.  As they investigate the incident further they uncover a far greater threat.

What Is The Truth Behind The Legends?
Now Kurt Austin must learn the secrets of the past if he is to save millions from a horrifying death.  But it is a desperate race against time.  And he faces a deadly enemy who will stop at nothing...

The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (June 2017)

The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (June 2017)Life is good for Laurie and Martha.  They have three great kids, a much-loved home in the countryside, and after years of struggle, Laurie's career as an architect is taking off at last.  Everything's perfect.

Except, it isn't.

Someone is about to walk into their happy family and tear it apart.

Laurie has been hiding from him for years.  The question is, now that he's found her, can she keep her family safe?  And just how far will she go to protect them?

The Method by Shannon Kirk (June 2017)

The Method by Shannon Kirk (June 2017)Imagine a helpless, pregnant sixteen-year-old who's just been snatched from the serenity of her home and shoved into a dirty van.  Kidnapped...Alone...Terrified.

Now forget her.

Picture instead a pregnant, sixteen-year-old, manipulative prodigy.  She is shoved into a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn son and to exact merciless revenge.

She is methodical - calculating - scientific in her plotting.  Leaving nothing to chance, she waits...for the perfect moment to strick.  The Method is what happens when the victim is just as cold as the captors.

Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier (June 2017)

Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier (June 2017)Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion Grim have settled quietly in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn's bond to her fey mentor.  But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.

Lady Geileis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada's help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land - one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns.  Casting, a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, the mysterious presence threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby.

As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together, it becomes clear that a powerful adversary is at work.  Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle - where even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.

Runaway by Peter May (June 2017)

Runaway by Peter May (June 2017)Five Dreams of Fame

Glasgow, 1965.  Jack Mackay dares not imagine a life of predictability and routine.  The headstrong seventeen year old has one thing on his mind - London - and successfully convinces his four friends, and fellow band mates, to join him in abandoning their homes to pursue a goal of musical stardom.

Five Decades fo Fear

Glasgow, 2015.  Jack Mackay dares not look back on a life of failure and mediocrity.  The heavy-hearted sixty-seven year old is still haunted by the cruel fate that befell him and his friends some fifty years before, and how he did and did not act when it mattered most - a memory he has run from all his adult life.

London, 2015.  A man lies dead ina bedsit.  His killer looks on, remorseless.  What started with five teenagers five decades before will now be finished.

Runaway is a tense, nostalgic crime thriller spanning a half-century of friendships solidified and severed, dreams shared and shattered, passions ignited and extinguished; and set against the backdrop of two unique and contrasting cities at two unique and contrasting periods of recent history.

The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone by Charity Norman (June 2017)

The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone by Charity Norman (June 2017)Girl meet boy.  They fall in love, and they marry.  For thirty years they share one another's lives.  That should have been the end of the story...

Luke Livingstone is a lucky man.  He's a father and grandfather, a respected solicitor, a pillar of the community.  He has a loving wife in Eilish, children who adore him and an idyllic home in the Oxfordshire countryside.

But Luke is struggling witih an unbearable secret, one that is close to destroying him.  All his life, Luke has hidden the truth about himself - a truth so fundamental that it will shatter his family, rock his community and leave him an outcast.

Luke has nowhere left to run.  He must either end his life, or become the woman he knows himself to be - whatever the cost.  His family is tested to its limits, as each of them is forced to consider what makes a person essentially themselves.  What do you do when you find that your husband - your father, your son - is not who you thought?  Can you ever love him again?

A beautiful and dramatic portrayal of a family in turmoil.

The Games by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan (June 2017)

The Games by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan (June 2017)Two years ago, Jack Morgan was in Rio consulting on security for the World Cup.  The tournament went without a hitch.  Until a man died in one of the executive hospitality suites during the final, and the autopsy showed the cause to be a rare and deadly virus.

The story was kept from the media to avoid causing panic, but Jack feared that the death was no freak occurrence.

Now the eyes of the world are once again turned towards Rio for the Olympic Games, and Jack is back in Brazil's beautiful capital.  It's not long before he uncovers terriying evidence that someone has set in motion a catastriphic plan.

The death at the World Cup was just a warning.  The Olympic Games could be the setting for the worst atrocity the world has ever seen.

Departure by A.G. Riddle (June 2017)

Departure by A.G. Riddle (June 2017)En route to London from New York, Flight 305 suddenly loses power and crash-lands in the English countryside, plunging a group of strangers into a mysterious adventure that will have repercussions for all of humankind.

Struggling to stay alive, the survivors soon realize that the world they've crashed in is very different from the one they left.  But where are they?  Why are they here?  And how will they get back home?

Five passengers seem to hold clues about what's really going on: writer Harper Lane, venture capitalist Nick Stone, German genetic researcher Sabrina Schroder, computer scientist Yul Tan, and Grayson Shaw, the son of a billionaire philanthropist.

As more facts about the crash emerge, it becomes clear that some in this group know more than they're letting on - answers that will lead Harper and Nick to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy involving their own lives.  As they begin to piece together the truth, they discover they have the power to change the future and the past - to save our world...or end it.

The Liar by Nora Roberts (June 2017)

The Liar by Nora Roberts (June 2017)When her husband Richard dies in a freak accident, Shelby Pomeroy is devastated.  But his death reveals a horrible truth - Richard was a liar and a cheat.  Now Shelby is left with the consequences - huge, terrifying debts and mounting proof that her late husband betrayed her in every conceivable way.

Heartbroken but unbowed, Shelby is determined to fix her problems - if only for the sake of her gorgeous little daughter Callie.  Returning home to Tennessee and the family she thought she'd lost for ever, she discovers a new sense of strength and freedom.  And hope, too, in the handsome form of carpenter Griffin Lott - a straight-dealing man who couldn't lie to her if he tried.

But not everyone is thrilled to see Shelby Pomeroy back in town.  And when a shocking act of violence is traced back to Richard's shady business, it becomes clear that she is not safe from him, even in death.  With her life in danger, Shelby must face the lies of the past - or lose everything.

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon (June 2017)

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon (June 2017)Alex is sinking.  Slowly but surely, she's cut herself off from everything but her one true love - drink.  Until she's forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost.  When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park.  Her attacker was never found.  Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place.  She's as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys.  And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma...

The Predictions by Bianca Zander (June 2017)

The Predictions by Bianca Zander (June 2017)Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known.  It's the epitome of 1970's counterculture - a place of free love, hard work and high ideals...at least in theory.  But Gaialands' strict principles are shaken when new arrival Shakti claims the commune's energy needs to be healed and she harnesses her divination powers in a ceremony called the Predictions.  Poppy is predicted to find her true love overseas, so when her boyfriend, Lukas, leaves Gaialands to fulfil his dream of starting a punk rock band in London, she follows him.  In London, Poppy falls into a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised - but is it the one she truly wants?

No Middle Name by Lee Child (May 2017)

No Middle Name by Lee Child (May 2017)Published together for the first time, and including a brand-new adventure, the complete Jack Reacher short story collection.

Jack 'No Middle Name' Reacher, lone wolf, knight errant, ex-military cop, lover of women, scourge of the wicked and righter of wrongs, is the most iconic hero of our age.

A new Reacher novella, Too Much Time, is included, as are those previously only published in ebook form: Second Son, Deep Down, High Heat, Not a Drill and Small Wars; and so is every Reacher short story that Child has written so far.  Read together, they shed new light on Reacher's past, illuminating how he grew up and developed into the wandering avenger who has captured the imagination of millions around the world.

The Cutthroat by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott (May 2017)

The Cutthroat by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott (May 2017)The Detective

It's 1911.  Chief Investigator Isaac Bell of the Van Dorn Detective Agency has had many extraordinary cases before.  But none quite like this.

The Investigation

Hired to find a young woman who has run away from home, Bell is shocked when instead he discovers that the pretty young actress has been brutally murdered.  Vowing to bring her killer to justice, he begins a manhunt which leads him to a chilling conclusion: that she was not the only victim - in cities across America young women sharing the same physical characteristics have been slain.

The Killer

And the pattern goes beyond the appearance of the victims - there are disturbing familiarities about the nature of the murders themselves that unnerves even a man as familiar with evil as Bell.  Because if he is right about his fears, then he is on the trail of one of the most terrifying serial killers ever to have lived...

Need You Dead by Peter James (May 2017)

Need You Dead by Peter James (May 2017)A Detective Superintendent Roy Grace novel

Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of a man who promises her the earth.  But, as Lorna soon finds, life seldom follows the plans you've made.  A chance photograph on a client's mobile phone changes everything for her.

When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene.  At first it looks an open-and-shut case with a clear prime suspect.  Then other scenarious begin to present themselves, each of them tantalizingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane (May 2017)

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane (May 2017)A toxic marriage a web of lies who can you trust?

Rachel's husband adores her.  When she hit rock bottom, he was there with her every step of the way as she slowly regained her confidence and her sanity.  But his mysterious behaviour forces her to probe for the truth about her beloved husband.

How can she feel certain that she ever knew him?  And was she right to ever trust him?

Post Mortem by Kate London (May 2017)

Post Mortem by Kate London (May 2017)She closed her eyes and saw, as if on a loop, a repeating backdrop of square windows, blue sky and concrete spinning and passing, passing, passing.  She could not escape the horror of it: falling unstoppably, irretrievably until the hard concrete reaches up.  That last glimpse of them at the edge.

A long-serving beat cop in the Met and a teenage girl fall to their deaths from a tower block in London's East End.  Left alive on the roof are a five-year-old boy and rookie police officer Lizzie Griffiths.  Within hours, Lizzie Griffiths has disappeared, and DS Sarah Collins sets out to uncover the truth around the grisly deaths, in an investigation which takes her into the dark heart of policing in London.

Kate London worked as a police officer for eight years, ending her career in the Metropolitan police services' Homicide division in 2014.  Post Mortem is her first novel.

The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons (May 2017)

The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons (May 2017)Judge.  Jury.  Witness.  Hangman.

A band of vigilante executionars roam London's hot summer nights, abducing evil men and handing them until dead.

Sentenced to Death:

The gang member who abused vulnerable girls,   The wealthy drunk driver who mowed down a child.  The hate preacher calling for the murder of British soldiers.

As the bodies pile up and riots explode across the sweltering city, DC Max Wolfe hunts a gang of killers who many believe to be heroes.

He discovers that the lust for revenge starts very close to home...

Through the Lonesome Dark by Paddy Richardson (May 2017)

Through the Lonesome Dark by Paddy Richardson (May 2017)For the men of the town, Blackball is the daily hardship of working the mine.  For the women, it's the dismal cottages with the piles of coal outside.  Yet for Pansy, Otto and Clem, children of Blackball, it's the treasure of the creek and bush and the richness of the friendship which binds them together.  But as Pansy soon realises, 'grown up is serious' and past promises cannot be kept.

Set in the times surrounding the Great War, Through the Lonesome Dark confronts and questions the loyalties demanded by family, friendship and love - both at home and amongst the ravages of war - and the hope of finding your way back.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (May 2017)

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (May 2017)Lucy is recoverng from an operation in a New York hospital when she wakes to find her estranged mother sitting by her bed.  They have not seen each other in years.  As they talk, Lucy finds herself recalling her troubled rural childhood and how it was she eventually ended up in the big city, got married and had children.  But this unexpected visit leaves her doubting the life she's made: wondering what is lost and what has yet to be found.

A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson (May 2017)

A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson (May 2017)'You may think you have a mnd for murder, Mrs Christie, but you will soon find that you are not the only one.'

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, is on the station platform, preoccupied with the devastating knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair.  There's a light touch on her back, causing her to lose balance, then someone pulls her to safety from the oncoming train.

But her rescuer is no guardian angel: he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind.  And Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf...

The details of Agatha Christie's sudden disappearance in the winter of 1926 remain unknown.  What actually happened to her in those ten days?  In his tantalising new novel, Andrew Wilson weaves an utterly compelling and convincing story about this still unsolved mystery involving the world's bestselling novelist.

The Fix by David Baldacci (May 2017)

The Fix by David Baldacci (May 2017)Walter Dabney is a family man.  A loving husband and the father of four grown daughters, he's built a life many would be proud of.

But then the unthinkable happens.

Standing outside the FBI Headquarters in Washington DC, Dabney shoots school teacher Anne Berkshire in cold blood before turning the gun on himself.

One of the many witnesses is Amos Decker: a man who forgets nothing and sees what most miss.

Baffled by what appears to be a seemingly senseless and random killing.  Decker is thrust into the investigation to determine what drove this family man to pull the trigger.

As part of an FBI special task force.  Decker and the team delve into the lives of Dabney and Berkshire to find a connection that doesn't seem to exist.  What they do find are secrets that stretch back a lifetime and reveal a current plot of impending destruction that will send the world reeling, placing Decker and his team squarely in the crosshairs.

The Burial Hour by Jeffery Deaver (May 2017)

The Burial Hour by Jeffery Deaver (May 2017)The only proof that a man was snatched in broad daylight is the account of an eight-year-old-girl - and the miniature noose left lying on the street.

A crime scene this puzzling demands forensic expertise of the highest order.  Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are called in to investigate.

Then the case takes a stranger turn: a recording surfaces of the victim being strangled, his gasps underscoring a piece of music.  The video is marked as copyright The Composer...

Despite their best efforts, the suspect gets away.  So when a similar kidnapping occurs on a dusty road outside Naples, Rhyme and Sachs don't hesitate to rejoin the hunt.

But the search is now a complex case of international cooperation - and not all those involved may be what they seem.  All they can do is follow the evidence, before their time runs out.

Queen Bees by Sian Evans (May 2017)

Queen Bees by Sian Evans (May 2017)Six brilliant and extraordinary society hosteses between the wars - a spectacle of celebrity, talent, and burning ambition

Lady Nancy Astor
Lady Sibyl Colefax
Mrs Laura Corrigan
Lady Emerald Cunard
Mrs Ronnie Greville
Lady Edith Londonderry

In the aristocratic circles of early 20th Century London revolution was on the horizon - in the form of six remarkable society hostesses who would change the political, social and cultural landscape of Britain forever.

These formidable Queen Bees, presided over society from their dining tables and salons, charming, scheming, and mingling their way (with mixed results) through two world wars, the Great Depression, an abdication, a coronation and an upheaval in class structures.

With a glittering cast of players from the Mosleys to the Mitfords, from millionaires to maharajahs, from film stars to royalty, Queen Bees is the witty, warm and fascinating story of six remarkable women.

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins (May 2017)

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins (May 2017)'Julia, it's me.  I need you to call me back.  Please, Julia.  It's important...'

In the last days before her death, Nel Abbott called her sister.

Jules didn't pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead.  They say she jumped.  And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid.  So afraid.  Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she's afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool...

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride (May 2017)

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride (May 2017)Welcome to the Misfit Mob...

It's where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can't get rid of, but wants to: the outcasts, the troublemakers, the compromised.  Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases.  So when an ancient mummy turns up at the Oldcastle tip, it's his job to find out which museum it's been stolen from.

But then Callum uncovers links between his ancient corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting.  O Division's Major Investigation Teams already have more cases than they can cope with, so, against everyone's better judgement, the Misfit Mob are just going to have to manage this one on their own.

No one expects them to succeed, but right now they're the only thing standing between the killer's victims and a slow, lingering death.  The question is, can they prove everyone wrong before he strikes again?

The Thirst by Jo Nesbo (May 2017)

The Thirst by Jo Nesbo (May 2017)The blistering new Harry Hole thriller from the number one bestselling author of The Snowman and Police.

There's a new killer on the streets

A woman is found murdered after an internet date.  The marks left on her body show the police that they are dealing with a particularly vicious killer.

He's in your house ... he's in your room

Under pressure from the media to find the murderer, the force know there's only one man for the job.  But Harry Hole is reluctant to return to the place that almost took everything from him.. Until he starts to suspect a connection between this killing and his one failed case.

He's out for blood

When another victum is found, Harry realises he will need to put everything on the line if he's to finally catch the one who got away.

The End of the Day by Claire North (May 2017)

The End of the Day by Claire North (May 2017)Charlie meets everyone - but only once.

You might meet him in a hospital, in a warzone or at the scene of a traffic accident.

Then again, you might meet him at the North Pole - Charlie gets everywhere.

Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy; sometimes as a warning.  Either way, it will be the most important meeting of your life.

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve (May 2017)

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve (May 2017)1947

Fires are racing along the coast of Maine after summer-long drought, ravaging thousands of acres, causing unprecedented confusion and fear.

Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her moody and unpredictable husband Gene joiins the volunteers fighting to bring the fire under control. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses go up in flames and they are forced to walk into the ocean as a last resort.  They spend the night frantically trying to save their children.  When dawn comes, they have miraculously survived, but their lives are forever changed: homeless, penniless and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists.

As Grace awaits news of her husband's fate, she begins to discover glorious new freedoms she could never have expected and her spirit soars.  And then the unthinkable happens, and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.

The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson (April 2017)

The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson (April 2017)Are you still married if you haven't seen your husband for months?

Polly's life is great.  Her children are away at uni, her glamorous mother - still modelling at eighty-five - is happily settled in a retirement village, and her perfume blog is taking off.  Then her husband announces he needs some space and promptly vanishes.

As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation, she clings to a few new friends to keep her going - Shirlee, the loudmouthed yoga student; Guy, the mysterious, infuriating and hugely talented perfumer; and Edward, an old flame from university.

And while she distracts herself with the heady world of luxury perfume, Polly knows she can't keep reality at bay forever.  Eventually she is forced to confront some difficult truths: about her husband, herself and who she really wants to be.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (April 2017)

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (April 2017)The Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling - from the novels of Tolkien to the worlds of comics and superheroes.  They are also an inspriration for Neil Gaiman's own award-winning, bestselling fiction.

Now Gaiman reaches back through time to the original source stories in an epic and electrifying retelling of the great Norse myths - thrilling tales of dwarfs and frost giants, of treasures and magic, and of Asgard, home to the gods: Odin the all-father, highest and oldest of the gods; his mighty son Thor, whose hammer, Mjollnir, was forged by dwarfs and makes the mountain giants tremble; Loki, wily and handsome, reliably unreliable in his lusts; and Freya, more beautiful than the sun or the moon, who gives short shrift to the gods, giants and ogres who seek to control her.

Gaiman's gods are thoroughly alive on the page - irascible, visceral, playful, passionate - as he leads us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok, the inescapable final downfall of the gods...

Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly (April 2017)

Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly (April 2017)Any family knows that a special birthday party is the perfect chance to come together, but for the Brannigan clan it's about more than just raising a glass...

Bess is hoping to show everyone just how happy her recent marriage is, but behind all the party-planning the cracks are begining to show.  Why is joining a new family so difficult?

Jojo, Bess's stepdaughter, has a point to make.  Bess is not her mother, and she won't replace the one she's been missing every day for the past two years.  And will she ever get the chance to become a mum herself?

Cousin Cari is a fierce career-woman who isn't unnerved by anything - apart from facing the man who left her at the altar, and he's on the guestlist.  Her job has been a safe place to hide ever since - but is it time to let love into her life again?

Thanks to laughter, tears and one surprise appearance, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage...But will they find out before it's too late?

My not so Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (April 2017)

My not so Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (April 2017)Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

OK, so the truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn't really hers.  But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren't they?

Until her not-so-perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack.  All Katie's hopes are shattered.  She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance.  But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams - or try to get her job back?  Does Demeter - the woman who has everything - actually have such an idyllic life herself?  Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

Earthly Remains by Donna Leon (April 2017)

Earthly Remains by Donna Leon (April 2017)During the interrogation of an entitled, arrogant man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, Commissario Guido Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he will quickly come to regret.  In the aftermath, he begins to doubt his career choices and realises that he needs a break from the stifling problems of his work.

Granted leave from the Questura, Brunetti is shipped off by his wife, Paola, to a villa owned by a wealthy relative on Sant'Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the Venetial laguna.  There, he intends to pass his days rowing, and his nights reading Pliny's Natural History.

The recuperative stay goes according to plan and Brunetti is finally able to relax, until Davide Casati, the caretaker of the house, goes missing following a sudden storm.  Nobody can find him - not his daugher, not his friends, and not the woman he'd been secretly visiting.  Now, Brunetti feels compelled to investigate, to set aside his holiday and discover what happened to the man who had recently become his friend.

In Earthly Remains, Donna Leon shows Venice through an insider's eyes.  From family meals and vaporetti rides to the never-ending influx of tourists and suffocating political corruption, the details and rhythms of everyday Venetian life are at the core of this thrilling novel, and of the terrile crime at its heart.

The Revolving Door of Life by Alexander McCall Smith (April 2017)

The Revolving Door of Life by Alexander McCall Smith (April 2017)Life is getting better for seven-year-old Bertie Pollock.  The enforced absence of his endlessly pushy mother, Irene - currently consciousness-raising in a Bedouin harem - has immediate blessings: no psychotherapy, no Italian lessons and no yoga classes.  Bliss.  Elsewhere, Matthew makes a discovery that could make him even richer but also leaves him worried; Pat makes one that could make her poorer and her father miserable - unless that uber-narcissist, Bruce, can help her out; and the Duke of Johannesburg, we discover, isn't exactly who he says he is.  Will the residents of 44 Scotland Street - both young and grown-up - be able to overcome the new dilemmas thrown their way?

The Woolgrower's Companion by Joy Rhoades (April 2017)

The Woolgrower's Companion by Joy Rhoades (April 2017)Australia 1945.  Until now Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on Amiens, her family's sprawling sheep station in northern New South Wales.  The horrors of war have for the most part left her untouched.  But with her father succumbing to wounds he's borne since the Great War, the management of the farm is increasingly falling on Kate's shoulders.

With only the sheep-rearing book The Woolgrower's Companion to guide her, Kate rises to the challenge.  However, the arrival of two Italian POW labourers unsettles not only the other workers, but Kate too - especially when she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali.

Then she receives devastating news.  The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess.  Given just eight weeks to pay the debts, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (April 2017)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (April 2017) February 1862.  The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill.  Days later, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery.  Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy's body.  From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying.  Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm - called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo - where ghosts mingle, squabble and commiserate, and a monumental struggle erupts over his soul...

The Cellar by Minette Walters (April 2017)

The Cellar by Minette Walters (April 2017)Muna's bedroom is a dark windowless cellar and her activities are confined to cooking and cleaning.  She's grown used to being maltreated by the Songoli family; to being a slave.

She's never been outside, doesn't know how to read or write, and cannot speak English.

At least that's what the Songolis believe.

But Muna is far cleverer - and her plans more terrifying - than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine...

The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (March 2017)

The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (March 2017)Finalist New Zealand Book Award

At the heart of Catherine Chidgey's extraordinary new novel is an enigmatic voice that tells the story of German families caught up in a nation's dream.

It's 1939.  Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power.  Sieglinde lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who cuts prohibited words such as love and mercy out of books.  Erich is an only child living a rural life near Leipzig, tending beehives, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions.  Drawn together as Germany's hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theatre amidst the rubble of Berlin.  Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city people are talking of surrender.  The days Sieglinde and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.

The Wish Child is a profound meditation on the wreckage caused by a corrupt ideology, on the resilience of the human spirit, and on crimes that cannot be undone.

I am the wish child, the future cast in water.  I am the thrown coin, the blown candle; I am the fallen star.

The Bone Field by Simon Kernick (March 2017)

The Bone Field by Simon Kernick (March 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 March 2017 also on podcast

A Man so EVIL he must be Stopped at any Cost

DI Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyd begin a desperate hunt for the truth that will take them into a dark and terrifying world of corruption and deadly secrets, where murder is commonplace, and nothing and nobody is safe...

Dead Girls Dancing by Graham Masterton (March 2017)

Dead Girls Dancing by Graham Masterton (March 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 March 2017 also on podcast

In the middle of Cork, in the middle of the day, a fire blazes in a local dance studio.

Thirteen women, all promising stars, die in the flames.  Their young lives cut short by a tragic accident.

But where others see tragedy, DCI Katie Maguire sees murder.  This is not the first fire to sweep through Cork.  And in one recent case, the victims were dead before the fire was started.

As Katie Maguire investigates the strange, obsessive world of competitive Irish folk dancing, she must face her most chilling killer yet...

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty (March 2017)

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty (March 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 March 2017 also on podcast

Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina try to catch up once a year for a girls' getaway.  Careers, husbands and babies have pulled those old high-school friends in different directions, and the closeness they once enjoyed is increasingly elusive.  This year, in a bid to revive their intimacy they each share a secret in an anonymous letter.  But the revelations are unnerving.  Then a fifth letter is discovered, venting long-held grudges and murderous thoughts.  But who was the author?  And which of the friends should be worried?

The Fifth Letter is a searing examination of women's friendship groups, the loyalty and honesty they demand, and the pain of ending relationships that once seemed essential but might be outgrown.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan (March 2017)

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan (March 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 March 2017 also on podcast

Kent, 1940.  In the idyllic village of Chilbury change is afoot.  Hearts are breaking as sons and husbands leave to fight, and when the Vicar decides to close the choir unti the men return, all seems lost.

But coming together in song is just what the women of Chilbury need, and they are ready to sing.  With a little fighting spirit and the arrival of a new musical resident, the charismatic Miss Primrose Trent, the choir is reborn.  But for one villager, the choir is the perfect cover to destroy Chilbury's new-found harmony.

Uplifting and profoundly moving, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir explores how a village can endure the onslaught of war, and how survival is as much about friendship as it is about courage.

Love, Lies & Linguine by Hilary Spiers (March 2017)

Love, Lies & Linguine by Hilary Spiers (March 2017)Hester and Harriet lead comfortable lives in a pretty cottage in an English village.  Having opened their minds, home and hearts to Daria, a mysterious migrant, and her baby son Milo, the widowed sisters decide to further expand their own horizons by venturing forth to Italy for their annual holiday.

Back in England, Daria and Milo are celebrating - they've received official refugee status with papers to confirm they can make England their home.  Meanwhile nephew Ben, who knows only too well how much he owes his aunts, is hurtling towards a different sort of celebration - one he's trying to backpedal out of as fast as he possibily can.

With a huge secret hanging between the sisters, an unlikely new love on the landscape for Hester and new beginings also beckoning for Harriet, Italy provides more opportunities for adventure than either of them could ever have imagined.  But which ones will Hester and Harriet choose?

As Hester and Harriet throw all their cards on the table in Italy, and potential catastrophe threatends Ben in England, it's anyone's guess how chaos will be kept in bay.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (March 2017)

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (March 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 March 2017 also on podcast

Who Killed Audrey Marshall?

Following a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend, Kate Priddy makes an uncharacteristically bold decision when her cousin, Corbin Dell, suggests a temporary apartment swap - and she moves from London to Boston.

But soon after her arrival Kate makes a shocking discovery: Corbin's next-door neighbour, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered.  When the police begin asking questions about Corbin's relationship with Audrey, and his neighbours come forward with their own suspicions, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own.

Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination playing out her every fear, Kate can barely trust herself... so how can she trust any of the strangers whose world she has only just entered?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (March 2017)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (March 2017)Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts colege move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition.  There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel painter pursuing fame in the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serve as their centre of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride.  Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself; by midlife a terrifyingly talented lawyer yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by a degree of trauma that he fears he will not only be unable to overcome - but that will define his life forever.

In a novel of extaordinary intelligence and heart, Yanagihara has fashioned a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark and haunting examination of the tyranny of experience and memory.

Untold Stories by Alan Bennett (February 2017)

Untold Stories by Alan Bennett (February 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

Alan Bennett's first collection of prose since Writing Home takes in all his major writings over the last ten years.

The title piece is a poignant family memoir with an account of the marriage of his parents, the lives and deaths of his aunts and the uncovering of a long-held family secret.  Also included are his much celebrated diaries for the years 1996 to 2004.  At times heart-rending and at others extremely funny.  Untold Stories is a matchless and unforgettable anthology.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (February 2017)

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (February 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

Roger Ackroyd knew too much.  He knew the woman he loved had poisoned her first husband, that someone was blackmailing her, and that as a consequence she had just taken her own life.  But as he read the letter that would tell him the identity of her mysterious blackmailer, he was stabbed to death in a locked room...

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of Agatha Christie's most brilliant detective novels and the book that catapulted her to worldwide renown.  As a play, under the title of Alibi, it then enjoyed a long and successful run with Charles Laughton as Hercule Poirot.  First published in May 1926 by Collins, and joining their Detective Story Club imprint in August 1931 to tie in with the release of the film version starring Austin Trevor as Poirot, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd remains as powerful and shocking today as when it was first published 90 years ago.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (February 2017)

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (February 2017)When war is declared, Mary defies her family to protect the children her country would rather forget.

Tom refuses to sign up for a conflict he doesn't believe in.

Alistair answers the call of duty, but can't silence his own heart.

Could you dare to fall in love while the world around you is falling apart?

The Girl Before by JP Delaney (February 2017)

The Girl Before by JP Delaney (February 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105,4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection... but can you pay the price?

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules.  After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there - and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before.  As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma's past and Jane's present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz (February 2017)

The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz (February 2017)He was once called Orphan X.

As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children's home, raised and trained as part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it exists.  But he broke with the programme, choosing instead to go off-grid and use his formidable skill-set to help those unable to protect themselves.

One day, though, Evan's luck runs out...

Ambushed, drugged and spirited away, Evan wakes up in a locked room with no idea where he is or who has captured him.  As he tries to piece together what's happened, testing his gilded prison and its highly trained guards for weaknesses, he receives a desperate call for help.

With time running out, he will need to out-think, out-manoeuvre, and out-fight an opponent the likes of whom he has never encountered if he's to have any chance of escape.  He's got to save himself to protect those whose lives depend on him.  Or die trying...

Cast Iron by Peter May (February 2017)

Cast Iron by Peter May (February 2017)In 1989, a killer dumped the body of twenty-year-old Lucie Martin into a picturesque lake in the West of France.  Fourteen years later, during a summer heatwave, a drought exposed her remains - bleached bones amid the scorched mud and slime.

No one was ever convicted of her murder.  But now, forensic expert Enzo Macleod is reviewing this stone-cold-case - the toughest of those he has been challenged to solve.

Yet when Enzo finds a flaw in the original evidence surrounding Lucie's murder, he opens a Pandora's box that not only raises old ghosts but endangers his entire family.

Hell Island by Matthew Reilly (February 2017)

Hell Island by Matthew Reilly (February 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

It is an island that doesn't appear on any maps. 
A secret place, where classified experiments have been carried out.
Experiments that have gone terribly wrong...

Four crack special forces units are dropped in.
One of them is a team of Marines, led by Captain Shane Schofield, call-sign: SCARECROW.

Nothing can prepare Schofield's team for what they find there.
You could say they're just entered hell.
But that would be wrong.
This is much, much worse.

Jericho's War by Gerald Seymour (February 2017)

Jericho's War by Gerald Seymour (February 2017)Corrie Rankin is already a legend at MI6 when he is recalled, with little regard for the horrors of his recent past, and sent to the Yemeni desert.  There is a chance to take down a high value player in the war against Al-Qaeda - a chance, also, for the Brits to succeed without begging help from the Americans.

The sniper and his spotter who will go with Corrie are less than 'top team', but the best that can be found if the mission is to stay deniable.

And once the three misfits are in-country, they must rely on intelligence brought to them by a British Jihadi who has been 'turned' and a young archaeologist digging in the ruins nearby.

The mission is the brain-child of an apparently old, fat fool in a striped cricket blazer, a sweating figure of fun among the ex-pat community across the border in Muscat.  This is Jericho - not actually as old or fat or foolish as he appears, nor as harmless.

And this is Jericho's War.  The weapons it deploys, the brutal aims it pursures, are state of the art.  The fear it breeds and the raw bravery it demands are as timeless as the desert itself.

Autumn by Ali Smith (February 2017)

Autumn by Ali Smith (February 2017)Autumn.  Season of mists and mellow-fruitfulness.  That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819.

How about Autumn 2016?

Daniel is a century old.  Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future.  The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.

Love is won, love is lost.  Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness.  The seasons roll round, as ever.

Ali Smith's new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means.  This first in a seasonal quartet casts an eye over our own time.  Who are we?  What are we made of?  Shakespearean jeu d'esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960's Pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history-making.

Here's where we're living.  Here's time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.

Here comes Autumn. 

City of Friends by Joanna Trollope (Febrary 2017)

City of Friends by Joanna Trollope (Febrary 2017)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

She glanced at her phone again.  There were appeals from the girls, from her ex-colleagues, a text from Steve reading with uncharacteristic imperiousness, 'Call me.'  She couldn't.  She couldn't call anyone ... She leaned forward, gripping the edge of the bench, and stared at the ground.  God, she thought, am I losing my mind?  Is this what happens when you lose your job?

The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life.  Or at least, the only life she'd ever known.  For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London?

As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new - one without professional achievements or meetings, but instead, long days at home with her dog and ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to come home - she at least has The Girls to fall back on.  Beth, Melissa and Gaby.  The girls, now women, had been best friends from the early days of university right through their working lives, and for all the happines and heartbreaks in between.

But these career women all have personal problems of their own, and when Stacey's redundancy forces a betrayal to emerge that was supposed to remain secret, their long cherished friendships will be pushed to their limits.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (December 2016)

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (December 2016)Charmaine sees an advertisement for a project called Positron that promises you a job, a place to live, a bed to sleep in - imagine how appealing that would be if you were working in a dive bar and living in your car.  She and her husband, Stan, apply at once.  The only catch is that once you're in there, you can't get out.

No one writes the lust and the loves, the wickedness and the weaknesses of the human heart like Margaret Atwood.

Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves (December 2016)

Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves (December 2016)The tide of earth had deposited debris, thrown it up on its way through the croft.  Perez saw a bedhead, a couple of plastic garden chairs that must have been stored in the lean-to.  And something else, bright against the grey wall and the black soil.  A splash of red.  Brighter than blood.

In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the road and sweeps down to the sea.

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, DI Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash throuogh a croft house in its path.  Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress.  In his mind, she shares his Meditarranean ancestry and soon he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity.

Then it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house.  Perez feels bound by duty - and something more powerful - to find out who she was, and how she died.  Within the house, the only clue is a wooden box that contains two photos, one of two small children and one of an elderly couple.  And a handwritten letter, which begins: My dearest Alis...

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (December 2016)

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (December 2016)Before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life.  But now, in 1939, the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags and she is no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home.  Hannah and her best friend, Leo Martin, make a pact: whatever the future has in store for them, they'll meet it together.

Hope appears in the form of the SS St. Louis, a transatlantic liner offering Jews safe passage to Havana.  At first, life on board the St. Louis is like a surreal holiday for the refugees, but soon ominous rumours from Cuba undermine the passengers' fragile sense of safety.  The ship that once was their salvation seems likely to become their doom.

Seven decades later in New York City, Anna Rosen receives a strange package from an unknown relative in Cuba, her great-aunt Hannah.  Its contents will inspire Anna and her mother to travel to Hannah to learn the truth about their family's mysterious and tragic past, a quest that will help Anna understand her place and her purpose in the worldl.

Red Herring by Jonothan Cullinane (December 2016)

Red Herring by Jonothan Cullinane (December 2016)A man overboard, a murder and a lot of loose ends...

In Auckland 1951 the workers and the government are heading for bloody confrontation, and the waterfront is the frontline.  But this is a war with more than two sides, and nothing is what it seems.

Into the secret world of rival union politics, dark political agendas and worldwide and anit-communist hysteria steps Johnny Molloy, a private detective with secrets of his own.

Caitlin O'Carolan, a feisty young reporter, is following her own leads.  Together they begin to uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the state - and which will threaten their own lives in the process.

The Tourist by Robert Dickinson (December 2016)

The Tourist by Robert Dickinson (December 2016)'She's missing.  Isn't this the kind of thing we report?'

It's expected to be an excursion like any other.  There is nothing in the records to indicate that anything out of the ordinary will happen.

A bus will take them to the mall.  They will have an hour or so to look around.  Perhaps buy something, thry their food.

A minor traffic incident on the way back to the resort will provide additional interest - but the tour rep has no reason to expect any trouble.

Until he notices that one of his party is missing.

Most disturbingly, she is a woman who, according to the records, did not go missing.

Now she is a woman whose disappearance could change the world.

With breathtaking plot twists that ricochet through time, The Tourist is the most original conspiracy thriller you will read this year.

The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble (December 2016)

The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble (December 2016)Francesca Stubbs holds our hand as we take a walk through old age and death.  Fran brings us to drinks with her friends, dropping off suppers for her ex-husbank, warm and cosy in his infirmity.  She visits her daughter, holed up as the waters rise in a sodden West Country, and texts her son in Lanzarote, as he deals with the estate of his deceased girlfriend.

The questions of what constitutes a good death preoccupy this glittering novel.  The Dark Flood Rises asks momentous questions as it entertains and enthralls.  In her beautifully imagined new novel, Margaret Drabble is at her incisive best, exploring the end of life with her trademark humour, composure and wisdom.

The Dry by Jane Harper (December 2016)

The Dry by Jane Harper (December 2016)Who really killed the Hadler family?

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself.  The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily.  If one of their own broke under the strain, well...

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier.  But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds are reopened.  For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret...A secret Falk thought long-buried...A secret Luke's death starts to bring to the surface...

The Pretty Delicious Cafe by Danielle Hawkins (December 2016)

The Pretty Delicious Cafe by Danielle Hawkins (December 2016)On the outskirts of a small New Zealand seaside town, Lia and her friend Anna work serious hours running their restored cafe.  The busy season is just around the corner, and there are other things to occupy them.  Anna is about to marry Lia's twin brother, and Lia's ex-boyfriend seems not to understand it's over.

When a gorgeous stranger taps on Lia's window near midnight and turns out not to be a serial killer, she feels it's a promising sign.  But the past won't let them be, and Lia must decide whether events rule her life or she does.

The Pretty Delicious Cafe will remind you of those special, good things we love about living.  And the food is geat.

The Girls by Lisa Jewell (December 2016)

The Girls by Lisa Jewell (December 2016)You live on a communal garden square where your children run free.

You've known your neighbours for years, and you trust them.  Implicitly.

You think your children are safe.

But are they really?

Midsummer night, and a girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden.

What happened to her?

And who is responsible?

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (December 2016)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (December 2016)

Northern Iceland, 1829

A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover.  A family forced to take her in.  A priest tasked with absolving her.

But all is not as it seems, and time is running out: winter is coming, and with it the execution date.

Only she can know the truth.  This is Agnes's story.

I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb (December 2016)

I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb (December 2016)Every Monday evening, Felix Funicello sets up a new film at an old vaudeville theatre for his weekly movie club.  But one night, as this sixty-year-old scholar prepares the projectionist booth, he is confronted by an unanticpated guest: the ghost of Lois Weber.

Once a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood's silent film era, Lois invites Felix to sit back and watch a new feature on the big screen - scenes from Felix's life.

Although unverved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois.  And as these magical movies play before him, he begins to reflect on the trio of unforgettable women who have profoundly affected his life: his troublesome yet loving sister; his Generation Y daughter; and Verna, a fiery would-be beauty queen from the 1950s.

The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life by John le Carre (December 2016)

The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life by John le Carre (December 2016)'Out of the secret world I once knew I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit.  First comes the imagining, then the search for the reality.  Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I'm sitting now.'

From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion, to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, John le Carre has always written from the heart of modern times.

In this, his first memoir, le Carre is as funny as he is incisive - reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels.  Whether he's writing about the parrot, at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine-gun fire, or visiting Rwanda's museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide, or celebrating New Year's Eve with Yasser Arafat, or interviewing a German terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev, or watching Alec Guinness preparing for his role as George Smiley, or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in his The Constant Gardener, le Carre endows each happening with vividness and humour, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood.

Best of all, le Carre gives us a glimpse of a writer's journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters.

The Romanovs 1613 - 1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore (December 2016)

The Romanovs 1613 - 1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore (December 2016)The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface.  How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire?  And how did they lose it all?

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition.  From Peter the Great and Catherine the Great to Nicholas, Alexandra and Rasputin, Montefoire's gripping chronicle reveals a secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance.

Written with dazzling literary flair, drawing on new archival research, The Romanovs is at once an enthralling chronicle of triumph and tragedy, love and death, a universal study of power, and an essential portrait of the empire that still defines Russia today.

Bolshoi Confidential by Simon Morrison (December 2016)

Bolshoi Confidential by Simon Morrison (December 2016)On a freezing night in January 2013, an assailant hurled acid in the face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Filin.  The crime, organized by a lead soloist, dragged one of Russia's most illustrious institutionns into scandal.

Under Vladimir Putin, the Bolshoi Theatre has been called on to preserve Russia's lengthy artistic legacy and to mirror its neo-imperial ambitions.  As renowned musicologist Simon Morrison shows in his tour-de-force account, the attact, and its torrid aftermath, underscored the importance of the Bolshoi in the art of ballet, to Russia, and to the world.

With exclusive access to state archives and private sources, Morrison sweeps us through the history of the Ballet, from its disreputable beginnings in 1776, through Moscow's transformation into a global capital after the revolution and, more recently a 450 million pound restoration that has returned the Bolshoi to its former glory, even as prized talent has departed.

The Theatre has been bombed, rigged with explosives and reinforced with cement.  Its dancers have suffered unimaginable physical torment to climb the ranks.  But, as Morrison reveals, the Bolshoi has transcended its own fraught history, surviving 250 years of artistic and political upheaval to define not only Russian culture but also ballet itself.

I Won't be Home for Christmas by Amanda Prowse (December 2016)

I Won't be Home for Christmas by Amanda Prowse (December 2016)Would you risk it all for a chance at happiness?

While her free-spirited daughter travels the world, Vivienne prepares for a lonely Christmas in Bristol, with her best friend Ellen and her ancient dog Bob.

Then a letter arrives that changes everything.  Vivienne's daughter is getting married in New Zealand, and she wants her mum and Ellen by her side.

But out on the rugged coast of Tutukaka, the sea sparkles, romance beckons - and Vivienne falls under the spell of another life.  Will she leave everything she holds dear for a chance at happiness?  Or will her daughter be the only one to fall in love this Christmas?

The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith (December 2016)

The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith (December 2016)

Venice, 1945

The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich.  One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman's body floating in the Lagoon and discovers that she is still alive and in trouble.

Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is on the run from the Wehrmacht SS.  Rather than hand her over to the Nazis, Cenzo chooses to protect Giulia: an act of kindness that leads them into the world of partisans, random executions, Mussolini's broken promises and everywhere, the enigmatic maze of the Venice Lagoon.

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra (December 2016)

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra (December 2016)In this chilling psychological thriller, one woman's dark past becomes another's deadly future

In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.

She'd been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend.  Mysteriously ominous things begin to happen - blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched - though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.

Eleven years later, she is replaced.

A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.  Soon the imposter is living Bec's life.  Sleeping in her bed.  Hugging her mother and father.  Learning her best friends' names.  Playing with her twin brothers.

But Bec's welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem.  As the impostor dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter - and soon realises that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger.

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch (November 2016)

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM 12 Nov 2016 also on podcast.

Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of PC Peter Grant or the Folly, even when they happen at an exclusive party in one  of the most expensive apartment blocks in London.  But Lady Ty's daughter was there and Peter owes Lady Ty a favour.

Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basement are bigger than the houses and dangerous, arcane items are bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean.  But this is Peter Grant we're talking about.

He's been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect.  Assuming he survives the week...

No Man's Land by David Baldacci (November 2016)

No Man's Land by David Baldacci (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM 12 Nov 2016 also on podcast.

One man demands justice...

John Puller is the US Army's most tenacious investigator, but he is not equipped to face the truth about his mother's disappearance thirty years ago.  New evidence has come to light suggesting that Puller's father - a highly decorated army veteran - may have murdered his wife.  When Puller's friend, intelligence operative Veronica Knox, arrives on the scene, he realizes that there is far more to this case than he first thought.  He knows that nothing will prevent him from discovering when really happened to his mother - even if it means proving that his father is a killer.

... the other seeks revenge

Paul Rogers has just been paroled after spending ten years in a high-security prison for murder.  And with his freedom comes a desire to pay back old debts.  Harbouring a dark past that changed him in unimaginable ways, Rogers embarks on a journey across the country, set on  a path of revenge against the people who took away his humanity.

As both men uncover a trail of deception that stretches back decades, they soon realize that the truth will bind them together in ways they could never have imagined.

The Cloud Leopard's Daughter by Deborah Challinor (November 2016)

The Cloud Leopard's Daughter by Deborah Challinor (November 2016)A dramtic new novel featuring Kitty, Amber and other favourites from the Smuggler's Wife series

On the goldfields of the colonies, enemies are easily made.  In the confines of a ship, they can turn deadly.

When Kitty and Rian Farrell sail their schooner Katipo III into Dunedin Harbour in 1863, they are on tenterhooks.  The new Otago goldfields have attracted all-comers, including their friend Wong Fu from Ballarat, who has sent a message for their help.

To their surprise, Wong Fu reveals he is more than a mere fortune seeker - he is in fact a Cloud Leopard tong master and his daughter, Bao, has been kidnapped and taken to opium-ridden China.

Kitty and Rian agree to retrieve the missing Bao, but as they sail closer to their quarry the stakes jump dramatically.  And little do they know that the deadliest threat lies in their midst.

The Cloud Leopard's Daughter takes us through dangerous and unpredictable shoals of love, lust, greed and opium, in search of not one, but two fiery yet vulnerable women - puppets in other people's calculated games.

Night School by Lee Child (November 2016)

Night School by Lee Child (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM 12 Nov 2016 also on podcast.

It's just a voice plucked from the air:  'The American wants a hundred million dollars.'

For what?  Who from?  It's 1996, and the Soviets are long gone.  But now there's a new enemy.  In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly dressed young Saudis are planning something big.

Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission and a big win.  The army pats him on the back and gives him a medal.  And then they send him back to school.  It's a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent and a CIA analyst.

Their assignment?  To find that American.  And what he's selling.  And to whom.  There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad.

Night School takes Reacher back to his army days, but he's not in uniform.  With trusted sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders, in a wired, fiendishly clever new adventure that will make the cold sweat trickle down your spine.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly (November 2016)

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM 12 Nov 2016 also on podcast.

'What do you want me to do?'  Bosch asked again.

'I want you to find someone for me,' Vance said.  'Someone who might not have ever existed.'

Harry Bosch is working as a part-time detective in the town of San Fernando outside of Los Angeles, when he gets the invitation to meet with the ageing aviation billionaire Whitney Vance.  When he was eighteen Vance had a relationship with a Mexican girl called Vibiana Duarte, but soon after becoming pregnant she disappeared.

Now, as he reaches the end of his life, Vance wants to know what happened to Vibiana and whether there is an heir to his vast fortune.  And Bosch is the only person he trusts to undertake the assignment.

Harry's aware that with such sums of money involved, this could be a dangerous undertaking - not just for himself, but for the person he's looking for - but as he begins to uncover Vibiana's story, and finds uncanny links to his own past, he knows he cannot rest until he finds the truth.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (November 2016)

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM 12 Nov 2016 also on podcast.

Lib Wright, a young English nures, arrives in an impoverished Irish village on a strange mission.  Eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell is said to have eaten nothing for months but appears to be thriving miraculously.  With tourists thronging to see the child, and the press sowing doubt, the baffled community looks to an outsider to bring the facts to light.  Lib's job is simple: to watch the girl and uncover the truth.

An educated sceptic, trained by the legendary Florence Nightingale and repelled by what she sees as ignorance and superstition, Lib expects to expose the fast as a hoax right away.  But as she gets to know the girl, over the long days they spend together, Lib becomes more and more unsure.  Is Anna a fraud, or a 'living wonder'?  Or is something more sinister unfolding right before Lib's eyes, a tragedy in which she herself is playing a part?

Written with all the propulsive tension that transported readers of Room, The Wonder is a haunting psychological thriller about the lengths we go to for the love of a child.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin (November 2016)

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Assess Radio 105.4FM 26 November 2016 also on podcast

'I do not care for the name Alexandrina.  Now that I am Queen, I have decided I shall call myself by my middle name, Victoria.  It is my own'

In June 1837, the eighteen-year-old Victoria wakes up to find that she is Queen of the most powerful nation in the world.  But will she be Queen in her own right, or a puppet controlled by her mother and the sinister Sir John Conroy?  Can this tiny girl prevail against the men like her uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who believe that women are too hysterical to rule?

Everyone wants her to get married, but Victoria has no intention of entering into a marriage of convenience with her cousin Albert, a shy bookworm who didn't know how to dance the last time she met him.  She would much rather reign alone with a little help from her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne.  He may be old enough to be her father, but he is the only man who believes that she will be a great Queen, and he knows how to make her laugh.  A husband would only get in the way...

The Whistler by John Grisham (November 2016)

The Whistler by John Grisham (November 2016)Investigating judicial misconduct by Florida's one thousand judges.  Lacy Stoltz never expected to be in the firing line.  Until she meets Greg Myers.

An indicted lawyer working under an assumed name.  Myers represents a whistle blower who knows of a judge in league with organised crime.  A judge who, together with her gangster associates, facilitated the building of a casino on an Indian reservation.  Anyone who opposed the casino is dead.

Having skimmed several fortunes off undeclared winnings, this might be the most corrupt judge in US history and under Florida law, Myers and his whistle blower friend could make millions by bringing these activities to the attention of the state.

But first they need Lucy to start an investigation.  In doing so she will be pitting herself against a judge whose associates think nothing of murder.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen (November 2016

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen (November 2016Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 26 November 2016 also on podcast

Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn't planning to be buried any time soon.  Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter and he has to visit his doctor more than he'd like.  But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?

Hendrik sets out to write an expose: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs - not least his new endeavour: the anarchic Old-But-Not-Dead Club.  And when Eefje moves in - the woman Hendrik has always longed for - he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what's left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.

A cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now conquering the globe, Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with his wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.

Hidden Killers by Lynda La Plante (November 2016)

Hidden Killers by Lynda La Plante (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM 12 Nov 2016 also on podcast.

A prostitute dressed ina blue rabbit fur coat walks through the darkness of Hackney Fields, seemingly alone.  But someone is waiting for her...

A woman is found dead in her bath, a small child crying in the room next door...  Is it an accidental death or the perfect murder?

When WPC Jane Tennison is promoted to the role of Detective Constable in London's Bow Street CID, she is immediately conflicted.  While her far more experienced colleagues move on swiftly from one criminal cast to another, Jane is often left with doubts about their findings.

Becoming inextricable embroiled in a multiple-rape case, Jane must put her life at risk in the search for answers.  Will she toe the CID line, or endanger her position by seeking the truth...?

Meet Me In Malmo by Torquil MacLeod (November 2016)

Meet Me In Malmo by Torquil MacLeod (November 2016)A British journalist is invited to Malmo to interview an old university friend who is now one of Sweden's leading film directors.  When he discovers the director's glamourous film star wife dead in her apartment, the Skane County Police are called in to solve the high-profile case.

Among the investigating team is Inspector Anita Sundstrom, who soon finds the list of suspects growing.  As Anita battles to discover the answers amid the antagonism of some of her colleagues, she even begins to think that the person she is becoming attracted to could be the murderer.

Meet Me In Malmo is the first in the series of best-selling crime mysteries featuring Inspector Anita Sundstrom.

White Bones by Graham Masterton (November 2016)

White Bones by Graham Masterton (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM 12 Nov 2016 also on podcast.

One wet, windswept November morning, a field on a desolate farm gives up the dismembered bones of eleven women...

Their skeletons bear the marks of a meticulous butcher.  The bodies date back to 1915.  All were likely skinned alive.

But then a young woman goes missing, and her remains, the bones carefully stripped and arranged in an arcane pattern, are discovered on the same farm.

With the crimes of the past echoing in the present, D.S. Katie Maguire must solve a decades-old murder steeped in ancient legend... before this terrifying killer strikes again.

Broken Angels by Graham Masterton (November 2016)

Broken Angels by Graham Masterton (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 26 November 2016 also on podcast

As they came nearer, the black-clad body came into view, lying on its side in the shallows...

One cold spring morning in County Cork, two fishermen find a body floating in the Blackwater River: the mutilated corpse of a retired music teacher.  His hands and feet are bound, and his neck bears the mark of a garrotting wire.

The Garda want to wrap this case up before the press get hold of it.  But when a second man is found murdered, the body bears all the same marks as the first.  And Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire fears this case carries the hallmark of a serial murderer...

Red Light by Graham Masterton (November 2016)

Red Light by Graham Masterton (November 2016)Katie Maguire is Ireland's most fearless detective.  But even she is afraid of this killer...

Somewhere in the city of Cork, a woman's cry echoes through the rainy streets.  A girl has been trapped in a flat with a dead body for three days.  It doesn't take DS Katie Maguire long to identify the murder victim: he's a cruel and powerful pimp she's been trying to convict for years.

It is Katie's job to catch the killer.  But with men like this dead, the city is safer - and so are the frightened young women who are trafficked into Cork.  When a second pimp is murdered, Katie must decide.  Should she do her job, or follow her conscience:  Should she allow the killer to strike again?

Taken for Dead by Graham Masterton (November 2016)

Taken for Dead by Graham Masterton (November 2016)Katie Maguire is one of Ireland's best detectives.  So why can't she catch these killers?

In a secluded cove just outside the reaches of the city of Cork, a woman wakes up into a nightmare.  She is buried in the sand, unable to escape.  The gulls wheel silently overhead.  Nobody could imagine the cruelty of her fate...

Katie Maguire of the Cork Garda is soon on the trail of a terrifying gang of torturers calling themselves the High Kings of Erin.  She'll do anything to stop them before they can claim their next victim - but somehow they are always one step ahead.

Is Detective Katie Maguire losing her touch?  Or is somebody close to her less trustworthy than they seem?

Living Death by Graham Masterton (November 2016)

Living Death by Graham Masterton (November 2016)The girl who teetered out of the doorway was exactly who they were looking for...

It's Hallowe'en, and the people of Cork are partying.  At half past two in the morning, a girl with green hair and sad eyes stumbles out of a club.  She never makes it home.

DS Katie Maguire and her team are stretched to their limit.  A gang of dognappers are terrorising the kennel owners of Cork.  The city's drug trade is at an all-time high.  And now they have a missing girl to find.

As Katie closes in on the truth, she realises that the three cases might be connected.  And that with ever second she spends investigating, the clock ticks on for the missing girl, trapped in a living death...

Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin (November 2016)

Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin (November 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM 12 Nov 2016 also on podcast.

Some cases never leave you.

For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind.  Murdered in her hotel room on the night a famous rock star and his entourage were stayng there, Maria's killer has never been found.

Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs.  A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, and an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position.  Has old-time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost, or is he biding his time until Edinburgh is one more ripe for the picking?

In a tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries, Rather Be the Devil showcases Rankin and Rebus at their unstoppable best.

The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly (November 2016)

The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly (November 2016)A Ruthless Kidnapping
Jack West Jr and his family are living happily on their remote farm...
...when Jack is brutally kidnapped and he awakes in an underground cell to find a masked attacker with a knife charging at him.

The Great Games
Jack, it seems, has been chosen - along with a dozen other elite soldiers - to compete in a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual.
With the fate of the Earth at stake, he will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight cruel assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him like he has never been tested before.

To Hell and Back
In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms.
He might also discover that he is not the only hero in this place...

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders (November 2016)

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders (November 2016)Mrs Laetitia Rodd is the impoverished widow of an Archdeacon, living modestly in Hampstead.  She is also a private detective of the utmost discretion.  In winter 1850, her brother Frederick, a criminal barrister, introduces her to Sir James Calderstone, a wealthy industrialist who asks Mrs Rodd to investigate the background of an 'unsuitable' woman his son intends to marry.

In the guise of governess, she travels to the family seat, Wishtide, deep in the frozen Lincolnshire countryside, where she soon discovers that the Calderstones have more to hide than most.  As their secrets unfold, the case takes an unpleasant turn when a man is found dead outside a tavern.

Dickensian in its scope and characters, The Secrets of Wishtide introduces an irresistible new detective in a series that will enthral and delight.

A Climate of Fear by Fred Vargas (November 2016)

A Climate of Fear by Fred Vargas (November 2016)A new Inspector Adamsberg novel

A woman is found murdered in her bathtub, and the murder made to look like a suicide.  A strange symbol is found near the body.

Then a second victim is discovered, who was also part of a group of tourists on a doomed expedition to Iceland ten years earlier.

How are these deaths, and rumours of an Icelandic demon, linked to the secretive Association for the Study of the Writings of Maximilien Robespierre?  And what does the mysterious symbol signify?

All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher (October 2016)

All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher (October 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October 2016 also on podcast

What if you learn something as an adult that makes you question your entire childhood?

This is the scenario the Rockwell sisters are face with.


Eldest child, control-freak, perfect wife and mother.  In fact, her husband has run off with his dentist and their teenage daughter is live-tweeting the entire mess to her 3,000 followers.

Middle child, fiance stealer, squatter.  Holed up in her ex-husband's apartment with her acupuncturist and a bottle of whiskey.

Youngest child, writer, runaway.  Hopes to find inspiration for her second novel by studying the behaviour of elephants - and fleeing her fiance.

One-by-one the siblings return to the family home, where an even bigger drama unfolds.  A box of old letters is delivered to the house containing the answer to the mystery they have all lived with, until now: who was their father, and why the hell did he disappear?

The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell (October 2016)

The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell (October 2016)Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October also on podcast

From the day it was stolen from me I had dreamed of recapturing Bebbanburg...

Britian is in a state of uneasy peace.  Northumbria's Viking rule and Mercia's Saxons have agreed a truce.  And so England's greatest warrior, Uhtred of Bebbanberg, at last has the chance to take back the home stolen from him so many years ago, now held by his scheming cousin.

But Uhtred has made many enemies, sworn many oaths that could distract him from his ambition.  And new threats arise as Constantin of Scotland seizes an opportunity for conquest and leads his armies south.  Britian's precarious peace threatens to turn into a war of annihilation.

But Uhtred is determined that nothing will keep him from his birthright.  He is the lord of Bebbanburg and will muster the skills he has learned in a lifetime of war to make his dream come true.

Billy Bird by Emma Neale (September 2016)

Billy Bird by Emma Neale (September 2016)Finalist New Zealand Book Awards

Liam and Iris have one son: Billy, a bright 'toddler puddling about like a penguin, leavng surrealist art installations all over the house - a tiny cow in a teapot in a hat on the doorstep, of course!  A stuffed crocidile in a silk camisole perched beside a woollen chick in a beanie on the bread-bin, why not!'

Just as they are despairing about being able to conceive another child, Jason comes into their family.  He arrives under fraught circumstances, but might just make a perfect sibling for Billy.  Jason is a 'lovely, poor, sad, unfortunate, ordinary, annoying, delightful nuisance of a ratbag of a hoot of a kid' and the boys grow close over the ensuring years.  But after a terrible accident, Billy turns into a bird.  He utterly believes it: and as his behaviour becomes increasingly worrying, Liam and Iris must find a way to stop their family flying apart.

When extracts of Billy Bird won the NZSA Peter and Dianne Beatson Fellowship, the judges said the project was 'inventive, joyful and beautifully written'.  Ripe with playfulness, yet also unforgettably poignant, this novel will unstich - and then mend - your heart several times over.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (August 2016)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (August 2016)Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

'Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie'Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes.  The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home.  The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History.  The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris.  And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mine until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds people try to be good to one another.

Under Italian Skies by Nicky Pellegrino (May 2016)

Under Italian Skies by Nicky Pellegrino (May 2016)Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

'It was a curious sort of feeling, being so cherished by a stranger..'

Stella has life under control - and that's the way she likes it.  For twenty-five years, she's been trusted assistant to a legendary fashion designer, but after her boss dies suddenly, she's left with nothing to do but clear the studio.

It seems as though the life she wanted has vanished - until one day she finds a house swap website and sees a beautiful, old villa in a southern Italian village.  Could she really exchange her pokey London flat for that?

What was intended as just a break becomes much more and Stella finds herself trying on a stranger's life.  As the villa begins to get under her skin, she can't help but imagine the owner from the clues around her.  She meets his friends, cooks the food he recommends and follows suggestions to visit his favourite places.  But can an idea of someone ever match up to the reality?

As Stella wonders if she can let go of the safety of her past, perhaps there's a chance for her to find a way into her future...

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver (May 2016)

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver (May 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 by Paul Torday with Piers Torday (May 2016)

The Death of an Owl by Paul Torday with Piers Torday (May 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 by Jane Woodham (May 2016)

Twister by Jane Woodham (May 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.

Love As A Stranger by Own Marshall (April 2016)

Love As A Stranger by Own Marshall (April 2016)Finalist New Zealand Book Awards

Brilliantly tracing the progress of unexpected love and the perils of relationships, this gripping novel is a tour de force.

Temporarily in Auckland while her husband is undergoing treatment, Sarah enjoys a walk in the coolness of the Symonds Street Cemetery.  As she pauses at the grave of Emily Keeling, murdered in 1886 by a rejected suitor, a stranger named Hartley strikes up a conversation.  Before long he arranges to meet Sarah for coffee.

So their friendship begins, and soon blossoms into an affair, rich in mutual understanding and sexual excitement.  But love may become obsession, which brings with it disquieting demands, even menace.

'When love is not madness, it is not love.'

The Living and the Dead in Winsford by Hakan Nesser (December 2015)

The Living and the Dead in Winsford by Hakan Nesser (December 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?
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