Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

Grand (March 2024)

By Noelle McCarthy

March 14, 2024

‘I’ll be grand, girl, I’ve great faith.’ – Mammy, just before she died.

Funny, charismatic and generous; angry, vicious and hurt; in pub lounges all over Cork City, Noelle McCarthy’s mother, Carol, rages against her life and everything she’s lost.

As soon as she can, Noelle runs away.  All the way to New Zealand, to make a new, different kind of life.  but then Manny gets sick, and it’s time to face everything that’s waiting back home.

From Catholic Ireland in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s to sparkling Auckland in the first years of the new millennium, Grand is a story of the invisible ties that bind us, of bitter legacies handed down through the generations, and of the leap of faith it takes to change them.

The Dark Remains (March 2024)

By William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin

March 14, 2024

Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people.  Now he’s dead and it was no accident.  Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter’s left behind his share of enemies.  So, who dealt the fatal blow?

DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him.  He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets.  His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple?  As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes.

William McIlanney’s Laidlaw books changed the face of crime fiction.  When he died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw’s first case.  Now, Ian Rankin is back to finish what McIlanney started.  In The Dark Remains, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and Laidlaw’s relentless quest for truth.

These Precious Days (March 2024)

By Ann Patchett

March 14, 2024

‘Any story that starts will also end.’  As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be.  Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming.  Patchett ponders this as she explores family, friendship, marriage, failure, success, and what it all means.

Ranging from the personal – her portrait of the three men, she called her fathers; how a chance encounter with Tom Hank led to one of the most important friendships of her life; how to answer when someone asks why you don’t have children – to the sublime – the unexpected influence of Snoopy; the importance of knitting; the pleasure to be found in children’s books – each essay transforms the particular into the universal, letting us all see our own worlds anew.

2 Sisters Detective Agency (March 2024)

By James Patterson and Candice Fox

March 14, 2024

Attorney Rhonda Bird returns home to LA to bury her estranged father, and discovers that he left her two final surprises.

The first is a private detective agency.

The second is a teenage half-sister named Baby.

When Rhonda goes into her father’s old office to close down the business, she gets drawn into a case involved a young man who claims he was abducted.

The investigation takes Rhonda and Baby to dark and dangerous places.  Soon they are caught in the crosshairs of an angry criminal cartel and an ex-assassin seeking revenge…

Fear No Evil (March 2024)

By James Patterson

March 14, 2024

Alex Cross ventures into the rugged Montana wilderness…

Where he will be the prey.

He’s not on the job, but on a personal mission.

Until he’s attacked by two rival teams of assassins, controlled by the same mastermind who has stalked Alex and his family for years.

Darkness falls.  The river churns into rapids.  Shots ring out through the forest.

No back-up.  No way out.  Fear no evil.

The Vanishing Point (February 2024)

By Andrea Hotere

February 20, 2024

London, 1991: Alex Johns, an art intern at the Courtauld, believes a hidden secret lies within Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas – one of the most written about paintings of all time.

Her mother died in puzzling circumstances while trying to uncover its secrets and Alex is troubled by memories of her own encounter as a child with the girl in the painting – the Infanta Margarita – who continues to haunt her.  Alex must take up her mother’s work and find evidence to uncover the truths within the canvas.

Madrid, 1656: The Infanta Margarita senses that those around her believe the royal household is cursed.

She wonders why her father, the King, is a pale shadow of himself and why the Queen is distressed.  What threatens the royal offspring?  She struggles to fight for her own destiny as the forces around her seek to marry her off and send her from the home she loves.

A treacherous trail through the art world, the church and seventeenth century Spanish court via drawings, letters and cryptic notes has Alex trying to piece together what happened in King Philip’s court…

But with powerful players who will do anything to stop these truths coming to light, will Alex live to share them or is she, too, cursed?

A Stroke of the Pen (February 2024)

By Terry Pratchett

February 20, 2024

Unearthed gems from the pen of Sir Terry Pratchett, one of the world’s best-loved storytellers.

A truly unmissable collection of twenty rediscovered stories, written under a pseudonym in the 1970’s and 80’s by the award winning and bestselling author of the phenomenal Discworld series.  These early tales hint at the worlds Terry would go on to create, containing all his trademark wit, satirical wisdom and fantastic imagination.

Meet Og the inventor, the first caveman to cultivate fire, as he discovers the highs and lows of progress; haunt the Ministry of Nuisances with the defiant evicted ghosts of Pilgarlic Towers; visit Blackbury, a small market town with weird weather and an otherworldly visitor; and go on a dangerous quest through time and space with hero Kron, which begins in the ancient city of Morport…

The Edge (December 2023)

By David Baldacci

December 11, 2023

A Brutal Murder

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

A Small Town

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

A Big Secret

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

Better the Blood (December 2023)

By Michael Bennett

December 11, 2023

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

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

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

Water (December 2023) Athenaeum Book Club 2024

By John Boyne

December 11, 2023

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

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

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

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

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