Last month I was honoured to take part in the Ngaio Marsh Awards blog tour to celebrate the finalists in the eighth annual Ngaio Marsh Awards, for excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery and thriller writing for which I reviewed the engaging non-fiction true crime book: The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie by David Hastings.
First-time crime writers Fiona Sussman, Finn Bell, and Michael Bennett swept the spoils at the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Awards in Christchurch on Saturday night.
Fiona Sussman is the first female author to win the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. THE LAST TIME WE SPOKE (Allison & Busby) is her second novel but the first foray into crime storytelling for the former GP who grew up in Apartheid South Africa. It explores the ongoing impact of a brutal home invasion on both victim and perpetrator. “Laden with empathy and insight,” said the international judging panel. “A challenging, emotional read, harrowing yet touching, this is brave and sophisticated storytelling.”
Self-published e-book author Finn Bell won Best First Novel for DEAD LEMONS and was a finalist for Best Crime Novel for PANCAKE MONEY. His debut explores themes of addiction, loss, and recovery as a wheelchair-bound man contemplating suicide decamps to a remote cottage in Southland, only to be obsessively drawn into a dangerous search for a father and daughter who went missing years before.
Experienced filmmaker Michael Bennett (Te Arawa) won the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Non Fiction for IN DARK PLACES (Paul Little Books), the astonishing tale of how teenage car thief Teina Pora spent decades in prison for the brutal murder of Susan Burdett, and the remarkable fight to free him. The international judging panel called it “a scintillating, expertly balanced account of one of the most grievous miscarriages of justice in New Zealand history”.
This Week on the Blog
My week kicked off with my review of William Boyd’s short story collection; The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth, probably one of the few books in this format that I have wholeheartedly enjoyed.
My excerpt post for Three Days and A Life by Pierre Lemaitre got a mixed reaction in the comments section, I’m going to be reading this one soon…
This Week in Books featured the authors Nina Bawden (more of her later), RC Bridgestock and Elly Griffiths
RC Bridgestock appeared on Cleopatra Loves Books on Thursday when one half of this writing duo, Carol, joined me to share her favourite childhood books as part of the blog tour for When A Killer Strikes. There were so many familiar titles on this list and Carol’s love of the children’s library where she fell in love with the tatty books shines through
On Friday I reviewed the winning book of The Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition 2016 – Caz Frear deservedly walked away with the prize with her novel Sweet Little Dreams which is up there with my favourite crime reads of 2017.
I ended the week with my review of Nina Bawden’s book The Solitary Child a book that was full of foreboding and I tagged ‘incredibly enjoyable in a miserable sort of way’ Apart from the plot itself it was equally interesting to see the contemporary opinions in the late 1950s, I won’t go into details but there are parts that wouldn’t pass the PC police today.
This Time Last Year…
I was reading The Museum of You by Carys Bray which I adored, surprisingly because this isn’t my normal type of reading matter at all. Twelve year old Clover Quinn never knew her mother and has just one blurry photo taken with her as a baby. After a trip to Liverpool’s Maritime Museum and having a conversation with one of the curators, she decided that she is going to sort through all her Mum’s belongings and find out all about her. Then she is going to display her findings in the second bedroom, complete with cards explaining each item in the display. This could have been a slushy story, but Carys Bray kept the tone just right and it is funny and heart-warming without descending into mush.
You can read my full review here or click on the book cover
Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.
Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy.
What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.
But what you find depends on what you’re searching for. Amazon
Stacking the Shelves
So having managed to negotiate the change to the new jurisdiction NetGalley I’m pleased to say all my unread books are still sat nicely on my shelf, including the latest addition, Turning For Home by Barney Norris. I loved his previous book of interlinked stories, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain so I’m looking forward to seeing what this one has to offer – it will be published in the UK on 11 January 2017.
‘Wasn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People lived in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they had for them. Everyone needed their stories, the other side of the ribbon of their lives, the real life and the dream, the statement and the meaning, all of them a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.’
Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all. NetGalley
I also have bought a copy of The English Daughter by Maggie Wadey after being drawn to this non-fiction read after seeing a post on one of your lovely blogs – sadly I can’t remember whose. If it was you ‘thank you’
As a child I was aware of my mother being different from my father and his family, and that her difference was somehow connected with her being Irish, but I knew almost nothing of her youth and upbringing. In the year or so before she died, she did begin to talk to me about her past. The first sequence of the book is based on those childhood memories. Only after my mother’s death do I go to Tipperary and there I begin to discover another story, the life she never told me about. Amazon
What have you found to read this week?
Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained just 2 so my TBR now has a total of 173
Physical Books – 96
Kindle Books – 56
NetGalley Books – 21