New Zealand author Thomas had quite the auspicious authorial start, with her self-published historical romance The Keeper of Secrets selling tens of tNew Zealand author Thomas had quite the auspicious authorial start, with her self-published historical romance The Keeper of Secrets selling tens of thousands of copies before being snapped up by a big publisher. Now she shows a deft hand for multiple genres as she spins an intriguing yarn in this, her first crime thriller.
Described as “blackly comic”, Blood, Wine & Chocolate is certainly a tale with moments dark and light, though comic is a bit of a stretch. Former East End semi-hard nut Vinnie Whitney-Ross has found middle-aged bliss as a Waiheke Island winemaker married to his chocolatier sweetheart, an idyll a world away from his former life on the periphery of one of London’s most psychotic gangland families. But his Kiwi lifestyle dream was bought with the betrayal of a childhood pal who won’t forgive or forget, and soon Vinnie faces a collision between lives old and new. There will be blood… and wine, and chocolate.
Thomas skillfully evokes the gritty violence of Vinnie’s East End life before switching gears as he moves from small-time hood to loved-up wine merchant. The food and wine descriptions become mouthwatering. A thriller that’s more a mixed case of quality quaffables than a bottle of Petrus, Blood, Wine & Chocolate is an enjoyable read. ...more
A terrific thriller from Brian Haig that blends legal and political manoeuvring against the all-too-real backdrop of military indiscipline and atrocitA terrific thriller from Brian Haig that blends legal and political manoeuvring against the all-too-real backdrop of military indiscipline and atrocities during overseas wars. Lieutenant Colonel Sean Drummond finds himself strong-armed by superiors into co-counseling a lose-lose court martial case with anti-army civilian lawyer. Katherine Carlson.
His unsophisticated client is one of five part-time soldiers accused of torturing and humiliating enemy prisoners abroad, and is proud of what she did and thinks she was only following orders that no one else can confirm. Is she wide-eyed or wicked? As the evidence mounts against her, and Drummond finds himself scrabbling for answers about what really happened and who knew about it, military and political stonewalling looks likely to submarine any reasonable defence.
Could this be part of something larger, or has Drummond just found himself with a poisoned chalice, defending an evil woman, alongside a hated legal colleague who'll do anything to make the army look bad?
Haig writes very well, sucking the reader in to a swirling, intriguing tale. At first I was a little unsure about Drummond and Carlson, who seemed caricatures of an army defender and anti-war crusader, but as the page-turning tale unfolded more and more layers and shades of grey emerged. There's a very strong voice, and narrative drive, in THE NIGHT CREW - it's a propulsive page-turner where Haig demonstrates his deep knowledge of and insight into the US military and how it intersects with political and civilian life. The questions and conflicts that are raised, and not easily answered in a world where certainty is valued even where it doesn't exist.
Highly recommended. After I finished I knew I'd be reading much more of Haig's work and Lt Col Drummond's adventures in future. ...more
New Zealand's internationally bestselling Crown Prince of Crime Fiction is at it again with another pulsating, violent thriller set in his near-dystopNew Zealand's internationally bestselling Crown Prince of Crime Fiction is at it again with another pulsating, violent thriller set in his near-dystopian version of Christchurch. Wonderfully complex protagonist Theo Tate has been resurrected, as a cop and a human being, after recovering from a coma. The death penalty has been reinstated, and now someone is disposing of society’s worst offenders, giving the victims of their crimes a chance for the proverbial ‘five minutes alone’ that so many want. Or think they want. But vigilantism is never as straightforward as it seems, and Tate finds himself hunting someone he can sympathise with, as he juggles his wife’s slipping recovery. Cleave beautifully brings together many threads in a taut and terrific tale full of wounded characters that raises questions about crime, justice, and whether we are more than our worst acts. His prose crackles like a campfire, darkly hypnotic and dangerous. Top notch, highly recommended. ...more
Michael Connelly’s latest instalment in his acclaimed Mickey Haller series is another pearler from the renowned chronicler of contemporary Los AngelesMichael Connelly’s latest instalment in his acclaimed Mickey Haller series is another pearler from the renowned chronicler of contemporary Los Angeles. Defence attorney Haller is hauled into a new murder case by a personal connection: the victim, a working girl Haller thought he’d saved from the life years ago, gave the attorney’s details to the accused killer, her online pimp.
Conflicted by his own guilt over prior cases and a broken relationship with his teenage daughter, Haller strives to prove his client’s innocence. Or at least raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, the ‘gods of guilt’. Can he save himself as well as his client, or are they both doomed by their prior acts?
Connelly weaves a compelling tale that is as much about the fascinating figure of Haller as its twisting plotline. A courtroom thriller that engages and makes you think, not just about whodunit. A great read....more
Glasgow stands on the precipice: of hosting the Commonwealth Games; of a nationwide vote on Scottish independence; and of an explosive rekindling of aGlasgow stands on the precipice: of hosting the Commonwealth Games; of a nationwide vote on Scottish independence; and of an explosive rekindling of a brutal gangland war. Enter Gerry Conway, the protagonist of McIlvanney’s superb debut thriller ALL THE COLOURS OF THE TOWN. Returned to the Glasgow Tribune after three years marooned in PR, Conway is the golden child fallen. A jaded, jobbing journo in a dying industry, clinging to the coat-tails of his once-protege Martin Moir. But when Moir’s body is found in a quarry as a big story breaks, Conway is thrust once more to the forefront. A dangerous place, as gangsters, politicians, and other predators swirl around. Terrific, page-turning storytelling imbued with quality prose and a fantastic sense of place and pressing societal issues. One of the top thrillers I’ve read this year. Highly recommended. ...more
First-time Kiwi crime writer St John, who has written in other genres under another name, explodes onto the scene with this dark and thrilling young aFirst-time Kiwi crime writer St John, who has written in other genres under another name, explodes onto the scene with this dark and thrilling young adult tale.
Jack “Spade” Miller is a wayward teenager left looking for answers when his ex-girlfriend Ella Lewis is found dead. While others lay some of the blame for the apparent suicide on Spade, he can’t believe Ella would kill herself, and sets out to find the truth. A dangerous quest that scratches at the veneer of stable suburbia and takes him deep into the Auckland underworld, where nefarious deeds are committed behind closed doors.
St John isn’t scared to take readers into some pretty dark and nasty places in this terrific debut; although it’s tabbed as a young adult read, with a teenaged ‘hero’, there are some very adult themes. Spade is a compelling centerpiece in a fearlessly told tale packed with intriguing characters. A new voice well worth listening to....more
He’s baaaa-aaack. Joe, the charming and brutal serial killer who masqueraded as a slow-witted police janitor while terrorising Christchurch in Cleave’He’s baaaa-aaack. Joe, the charming and brutal serial killer who masqueraded as a slow-witted police janitor while terrorising Christchurch in Cleave’s raw but outstanding 2006 debut, THE CLEANER.
In the years since, Cleave has gathered awards and acclaim in New Zealand and abroad for his gripping and gory thrillers, yet for Joe only one year has passed. Joe awaits trial on multiple murder charges, but sees himself as the victim. Stuck in prison, unable to continue his ‘work’, forced to liaise with lawyers and psychologists as he plots a defence that he wasn’t in control of his actions. And then there’s the movement calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty, with him as posterchild for the hangman, as well as former cops, victims’ family, and a sociopathic ex-girlfriend all coming for him.
Cleave writes vividly and violently, ratcheting up the tension as we wonder what will happen to Joe, and all those whose lives he touches. Ferocious and fun. ...more