Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

The Family Remains (July 2022)

By Lisa Jewell

July 26, 2022

London.  June 2019, early morning: on the foreshore of the River Thames a bag of bones is discovered.

Human bones.

DI Samuel Owusu quickly sends the bag for forensic examination.  The bones are those of a young woman, killed by a blow to the head many years ago.

Also inside the bag are the seeds of a rare tree which lead DI Owusu to a mansion in Chelsea where, nearly thirty years previously, three people lay dead in a kitchen while a baby waited upstairs for someone to pick her up.

Four deaths.  An unsolved murder mystery.  And a family whose secret history is darker than anyone can imagine…

The Whalebone Theatre (July 2022)

By Joanne Quinn

July 26, 2022

Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no girls in the books in her dusty family library.  For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young women, there seems to be no place at all for her in Chilcombe, her family’s crumbling English estate.

But from the day that a whale washes up on the beach, and twelve-year-old Cristabel plants her flag, claiming it as her own, she is determined to do things differently.

With her step-parents blithely distracted by their endless party guests, Cristabel, and her siblings, Flossie and Digby, scratch together an education from the plays they read in their freezing attic bedroom, drunken conversations eavesdropped through oak-panelled doors, and the esoteric lessons of Maudie, their maid.

But as the children grow to adulthood and war approaches, it becomes clear that the roles they are expected to play are no longer those they would choose themselves.  And as they are drawn into the conflict, they must each find a way to write their own story…

Lying Beside You (July 2022)

By Michael Robotham

July 26, 2022

Twenty years ago, Cyrus Haven‘s family was murdered.  Only he and his brother survived.  Cyrus because he hid Elias because he was the killer.

Now Elias is being released from a secure psychiatric hospital and Cyrus, a forensic psychologist, must decide if he can forgive the man who destroyed his childhood.

As he prepares for the homecoming, Cyrus is called to a crime scene in Nottingham.  A man is dead and his daughter, Maya, is missing.  Then a second woman is abducted…  The only witness is Evie Cormac, a troubled teenager with an incredible gift: she can tell when you are lying.

Both missing women have dark secrets that Cyrus must unravel to find them – and he and Evie know better than anybody how the past can come back to haunt you…

The Foot Soldiers (July 2022)

By Gerald Seymour

July 26, 2022

Jonas Merrick is back.

Someone is giving the Russians vital information.  So the quietly cantankerous man from MI5 must abandon his holiday to track down a traitor on the more glamorous side of the Secret Service – MI6.

From London to Denmark, Berlin to Moscow, The Foot Soldiers is an epic novel of the intelligence world, exciting, authentic and relentlessly suspenseful.

Reputation (July 2022)

By Sarah Vaughan

July 26, 2022

Reputation: It takes a lifetime to build and just one moment to destroy.

Emma Webster is a respectable MP.

Emma Webster is a devoted mother.

Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.

Emma Webster is a liar.

#Reputation: the story you tell about yourself, and the lies others choose to believe…

The Dictionary of Lost Words (July 2022)

By Pip Williams

July 26, 2022

In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary.  This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.  Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard.  One day, she sees a slip containing the world bondmaid flutter to the floor unclaimed.  Esme seizes the word and hides it in an old wooden trunk that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house, Esme begins to collect other worlds from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men.  They help her make sense of the world.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded.  She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Set when the women’s suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men.  It’s a delightful, lyrical and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words, and the power of language to shape our experience of the world.

The Sleeping and the Dead (June 2022)

By Ann Cleeves

June 14, 2022

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer when Detective Peter Porteous is called to Cranford Water, where the body of a teenager has been discovered.  After trawling through the missing persons files, he comes to the conclusion that the corpse is Michael Grey, an enigmatic and secretive young man who was reported missing by his foster parents in 1972.

The news that a body has been found leaves prison officer Hannah Morton in shock.  Michael had been her boyfriend, and she had been with him the night he disappeared.  And now the discovery is bringing back dreaded and long-buried memories from her past…

The Match (June 2022)

By Harlan Coben

June 14, 2022

He is known as Wilde, the boy from the woods.

Discovered living a feral existence in the Ramapo mountains of New Jersey, he has grown up knowing nothing of his parents, and even less about his own identity.

Until now.

When a match on a DNA database puts him on the trail of a close relative – the only family member he has ever known – Wilde thinks he might be about to solve the mystery of who he really is.

Only this relation disappears as quickly as he’s resurfaced.  Undaunted, Wilde continues his research, becoming caught up in a secret community committed to exposing anonymous online trolls.

Then one by one, people start to die, and it soon becomes clear that a serial killer is targeting this secret community.

And that the next victim could be Wilde himself…

Booth (June 2022)

By Karen Joy Fowler

June 14, 2022

Six brothers and sisters.  One terrible act that will shatter their bond forever.

In 1822, Junius Booth – disgraced Englishman, celebrated Shakespearean actor and master of the house in all ways – moves his family to a remote cabin outside Baltimore.  Year by year, the country draws closer to the boiling point of civil war.

Of the six Booth siblings who survive to adulthood, each has their own dreams they must fight to realise, and each must fight to emerge from the shadows of their talented but unstable father.  But it is Johnny who makes the terrible decision that will change the course of history – to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

Vivid, perceptive and troublingly relevant to the world of today, Booth is a profound, sweeping novel focused on the very things that bind, and break, a family.

The Custom House Murder (June 2022)

By Mike Hollow

June 14, 2022

September, 1940.  With London having endured the Blitz for nearly a month, people are calling for vengeance, but once again the night heralds more destruction.  In Custom House, anxious residents dutifully head to the nearest public air-raid shelter as the warning siren wails.

When dawn brings the all-clear, people disperse, but one man remains – he is dead, stabbed through the heart.  Detective Inspector John Jago discovers that the victim was a pacifist.  But why, then, was he carrying a loaded revolver in his pocket?

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