Posts Tagged ‘murder’

The Physician’s Gun by John Evan Harris. Pub. Roiall Emerald Publishing 2022.

October 30, 2022 Comments off

Set in early New Zealand and based on true events, this story of murders most foul is a very readable story with a 15 year old boy, Henry Appleton as the main character.

Henry and his mother have a small house in the Nelson area in 1866. Many people pass through this area on their way to and from the Westland gold fields. Unfortunate Henry’s father has been killed and he and his mother are in hard times and living off a garden and Henry’s job cleaning at the bank.

Henry is an imaginative boy who yearns for a gun. He reads books by Johnny Slick who writes westerns and actually turns up in Nelson and meets Henry.

Into Nelson comes a physician Z. Smith, who is hunting his wife’s killer. The murder took place in Australia and Smith suspects the killer is in NZ. At the same time a ruthless robber and killer Richard Burgess, his mate Joseph Sullivan and his other cutthroat mates come to Nelson from Australia via the Westland goldfields.

Then some cowardly murders take place on the Maungatapu Road, a main thoroughfare from the goldfields that were notorious in 1860’s New Zealand. Who did the murders and how is Henry implicated? Thrilling stuff, read it and find out.

Excellent portrayal of early life in NZ and of a murder that stunned the country. Henry is a good role model, brave and his heart in the right place. In the back are photos of all those concerned and true facts about the Maungatapu Murders. Illustrations in pen and ink sketches show the main characters and action and enhance the story.

Rocking Horse Road by Carl Nixon

December 20, 2019 Comments off

rockinghorseRocking Horse Road by Carl Nixon. Pub. Random House, 2007.

I missed this excellent novel about teenagers growing up in Christchurch New Zealand in the 1980’s.

It attracted my attention because I live on the coastal East side of Christchurch and I intimately know the Rocking Horse Road area of South New Brighton. It is a long beach finger, between the ocean and the estuary of the Avon and Heathcote rivers.

One morning in the hot summer of 1980 the body of 16 year old Lucy Asher is found at the high tide area of South Brighton beach. She had been sexually assaulted and murdered. She is found by Pete Marshall who is a year younger than Lucy and the consequences of Lucy’s death will affect him and his mates for the rest of their lives.

The police investigation into Lucy’s murder does not result in a culprit being caught so the boys(one of them narrates the story), conduct their own investigation until well into their 40’s. It dominates their lives, but will they solve the case?

At the same time the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour of New Zealand takes place, a tour that divided the country and resulted in some appalling behaviour from both sides of the argument. The boys are caught up in this as well.

It is a loss of innocence story both for the teenage boys and the country. Neither will be the same again. The environment of the estuary and beach is a huge part of the appeal of this novel. If you live in New Brighton you will love it.

Powerfully written by Carl Nixon. Once you start you won’t put it down. For young adult and adult readers.



Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

February 3, 2017 Comments off

allegedAllegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. Pub. Katherine Tegen Books, imprint HarperCollins, 2017.

One of the most powerfully written novels for Senior students and young adults that I have ever read. It is an emotional roller coaster ride concerning events that people just don’t want to believe or face. It addresses the question of justice. Can there ever be true justice for those who are helpless to defend themselves?

Mary B. Addison was 9 years old when the 6 month old baby, Alyssa, whom her mother was babysitting, was killed violently by Mary – allegedly. Too horrific to think that a child could kill another child. That’s what the justice system, the media and the populace at large thought. Get it over with, put her inside and forget about her? Throw away the key.

Mary spends years in baby prison as she calls it and now on the eve of her 16th birthday she is put in a group home with other girls who are also deeply disturbed. Mary has been abused to the level where she says nothing, beaten black and blue and has no hope for herself in this world. She is lead to believe by her mother that the devil is inside her and there is no hope for her. But Mary loved Alyssa and not a day goes by when she doesn’t think of her.

Then several things happen at the new Group home. Mary meets Ted a 19 year old boy who works at the old peoples home where Mary is allowed to work. Mary becomes pregnant with a child she calls Bean. Ted is good for her and opens her up. Then a new girl comes to the home and shows Mary computer access to the World and introduces Mary to a lawyer Ms. Cora who interviews Mary and decides to make an appeal to have her case reopened.

I can tell you no more. It is a compelling read and if you don’t get emotionally involved with this story then you are heartless. You will be full of hope and gutted at the same time.

This is a special book. Read it, savour it, ask questions. Mary loves a mother who doesn’t deserve her love. The ending thankfully is hopeful.

Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy

February 29, 2016 Comments off

moth girlsMoth Girls by Anne Cassidy. Pub. Hot Key Books, 2016.

It is said that two is company and three is a crowd. That’s the way it is with Mandy, Petra and Tina. All three girls are new at school looking for friends to feel at ease.

Petra and Tina are friends first with Petra wanting the friendship to be exclusive. She inveigles Tina into her world by forming a girl band called the Red Roses. Tina is easy going and falls in line. When Mandy comes on the scene Tina is happy for her to join. The girls get on well and are closer in terms of family life and an easiness of manner.

Petra won’t have this and pressures Tina who submits. Petra’s home life is sordid. She lives with a violent drunken father who is always sorry after he beats her. Petra sees him entering a house with groceries one day and hears him talk of an old man who lives there.

Curiosity compels Petra to go into the old man’s property like a moth to a flame. She takes Tina in with her and tells Mandy to go home. Petra and Tina disappear. What has happened?

Not a trace is found of them and now it is 5 years later and the house from which they disappeared is being demolished. Mandy now 17 years goes to watch and this precipitates a series of events that tell of what happened.

Splendidly told by Anne Cassidy who is a master of suspense. She keeps the tension on for the whole book. This is a psychological thriller and a mystery.

I first read Cassidy’s book Looking for JJ in 2004. It was brilliant and this book is too.

High school students will love it and I suspect some intermediate girls will love it too.

Confessions. The Paris Mysteries by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro.

June 12, 2015 Comments off

confessions paris mysteriesConfessions. The Paris Mysteries by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro. Pub. Random House, 2014.

Sometimes it is good to read a book that you don’t have to think too deeply about and just go with the flow. This is such a novel.

Tandy Angel is an attractive 16 year old who has plenty of drama on her plate. The novel opens with a joyous time for her in Paris with the boy she loves, staying in an old hotel with love all around. It doesn’t last long, in the morning he is gone without a by your leave. Swine!

Tandy’s head is still swimming when she finds her  twin brother Harry(named after George Harrison), younger brother Hugo and older brother Matty have inherited a fortune from their grandmother. But the fortune is tainted.

The siblings parents once owned a Pharmaceutical company that went tail up, the parents are brutally murdered and older sister Katherine is killed in an accident in South Africa. They discover that their uncle Peter is a crook and is possibly out to kill the remaining members of the family and worst of all they discover they have been fed drugs  disguised as vitamins by their parents that are supposed to increase all round intellect and physical capabilities. OMG!

You don’t need to know more just go ahead and get involved. The chapters are short, the dialogue cheesy, the plot has more twists and turns than a politicians speech and it is in the exciting settings of Paris and later New York.

Young Adult stuff with nothing serious except the fantasy of being filthy rich.

Night Vision by Ella West

January 30, 2014 Comments off

night visionNight Vision by Ella West. Pub. Allen and Unwin, 2014.

Not published until April two words that describe this novel are Gripping and Informative.

Teenager Viola has a rare genetic skin disease that means she cannot go out in the sun. The disease is called XP and those that have it are described as Moon children. Her life is lived at night and to help her with this her parents supply her with night vision glasses.

Viola plays the viola and because she lives on an inland Canterbury farm she practices at night as well as going wandering in the nearby forest. One night she witnesses murder most foul with the culprit burying a million dollars in the ground. Viola digs up the money and moves the murderers marker to another spot nearby.

This precipitates much tension in Viola’s life and for the reader hence the descriptive gripping. What will she do with the money and will the murderer suspect her. An article on Viola’s life in the local newspaper builds the tension further.

The informative part comes from the way Ella West informs the reader of the aspects that feature in Viola’s life. There is a detailed description of what makes an hereditary disease, details of what makes farming in NZ important, even a dissertation on what the effects of OCR or official cash rate, have on the economy. I applaud this as I consider that teenagers today lack a lot of realistic economic nous.

Enjoyed this easy to read novel for students aged 11 to 15 years.

Slide by Jill Hathaway

March 16, 2012 Comments off

Slide by Jill Hathaway. Pub.HarperCollins, 2012.

This novel is a psycho-drama. Lots of drama, lots of psychotic characters. It is also a murder mystery that leaves you guessing until the end. You do get clues but piecing them together takes some doing, but they are there.

Vee suffers from narcolepsy, in other words she goes to sleep at the most awkward of times and places. While she is under her mind slides into another character. She never knows who she will slide into and cannot read the other persons mind while she is in there. All she can do is experience what they are doing.

Two murders of young teenage cheerleaders take place and made to look like suicides and Vee was in the mind of the murderer when one murder happened. What can she do?

There are a host of potential murderers including a teacher, a new hunky boy at school, an old boy friend, even her father. Can the answer be in the past?.

This novel keeps you on edge and keeps you in the book. In between times you experience teenage, school and family relationships. Teenagers can be really mean to each other but they can also be very supportive. Try and guess who it is..

Worth a read if you want something different. Mainly for High school students. I liked it.

Brother Sister by Sean Olin

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Brother Sister by Sean Olin. Pub. Razor Bill Penguin, 2011.

Will and Asheley are teenage brother and sister and they have a hellava story to tell. Not a pretty story but a story that seems inevitable given their upbringing and their parents.

Will is tall and lanky, very moody and changeable, lacks friends but has great ability at golf, and he loves his sister. Asheley is younger than him, very attractive , has few friends,  does have a boy friend called Craig who she loves but he is a macho clown.

On a day when Will wins a golf tournament and Asheley plays a starring role in a win for her softball team their lives come tragically undone.

Will and Asheley’s parents are divorced, they live with their mother in a house built by their father, and she is the town drunk. A violent abusive drunk and on this day after weeks off the sauce she hits it with a violent and abusive vengeance.

Will and Asheley shrink into despair before your eyes and Will especially goes into a mental decline that leads to murder. I can tell you no more but it is compelling reading.

The plot is revealed in narratives by both Will and Asheley retrospectively and in consecutive chapters so that you see both sides of the story. The chapters are short and the drama is intense. It is hot stuff.

Senior secondary and young adult in appeal.

Stay With Me by Paul Griffin

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Stay With Me by Paul Griffin. Pub.Text Publishing Melbourne, 2011.

Fifteen year old Cece, pronounced Cheechee, meets Mack while working in a restaurant. There is electricity between them and they start a relationship that lasts 102 days.

The relationship develops slowly and awkwardly, but when together at a party the girls start giving Cece that “you bitch look” it is time to take the relationship further.

It is a beautiful young love relationship with Cece and Mack talking of living together for ever. They share their most intimate thoughts and you want them to stay together, but you know from the beginning that they will not.

Mack has a past and he confides to Cece that he is scared of doing something bad. When a nutter kills his beautiful dog,  Boo, Mack explodes and the relationship with Cece is blown out of the water.

Superbly written in quick one-line sentences, this novel will get you involved like no other. Consecutive chapters are narrated firstly by Mack then by Cece so that you get both sides of the story.

It is hard-nosed and sentimental but you wouldn’t want it any other way. The ending will bring a tear to your eye.

Definitely for high school students and young adults.

Mice by Gordon Reece

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Mice by Gordon Reece. Pub.Allen & Unwin, 2010.

Shelley and her mother are victims in life. They call themselves mice because they are timid and people have taken advantage of them. But this is going to stop. There is a saying that “the meek shall inherit the earth” if it is ok by you. In this book the meek take control.

Shelley is 15 years old she is artistic and clever and has had the same group of friends for years. When puberty arrives these same friends turn on Shelley and she is bullied mercilessly so that she has to leave school and be tutored at home.

Shelley’s mother is also artistic and clever. She is married to a lawyer (Shelley’s father) who is less able than her and knows it. When the father finds a younger woman out go Shelley and her mother with the worst kind of divorce settlement.

They survive and buy a cottage in the country and begin what for both of them is an idyllic life.

On the eve of Shelley’s 16th birthday they have an intruder who is drugged to the eyeballs, carries a big knife and wants everything they have got. The mice qualities at first come to the surface in the two women, but the burglar crosses the line and the mice roar.

Brilliant stuff. This is a suspense thriller come psych drama that will have you on the edge of your seat to the end. The writing is brilliant from a new writer to me.

Will appeal to secondary students and young adults. This is a thrilling novel.