The summer of 1976 in Auckland, New Zealand. There is a severe marijuana drought.
Two couples; a gynecologist and a physicist, together with a violinist and an actress meet by accident in a pub and help a Maori evade the police.
A group of Maori plans to deliver a truckload of cannabis to Auckland.
A Chinese family has harvested four greenhouses of enhanced sensimilla.
A criminal mastermind plots to start a drug war.
A police Inspector hunts a fugitive Maori.
The war on drugs starts in New Zealand. Chaos ensues.
A wee while since I read this one and some overdue thoughts….
Great setting…New Zealand in the 70s and a bit of a social history lesson, particularly in police attitudes towards the Maoris – break heads first and worry about asking questions later. I don’t think they were too big on civil rights and liberties back then. (Some notes at the back of the book are helpful in explaining some facets of NZ as it was in the 70s and providing context with details on Maori history, language and culture.)
Plot - a tale of dope growing; two crops, one from the Maoris and one from the Chinese and a white criminal gang lord in the city happy to sacrifice one crop so he can engineer the hijack of the other; always assuming he can concentrate on the task in hand and not get side-tracked by the kidnapping of an old flame. This old flame of his is related to one of our dope growers and a former employee at one of his massage parlours in the city. Opportunity strikes when she rocks back up in the city from the US. (Not just from a business perspective but also regarding pleasures of the flesh!)
Action aplenty - beatings, shootings, a bar fight-cum-riot, petrol bombs, sexual violence, and a bloody stakeout culminating in a more explosive climax. This would probably make a decent film.
A little bit of romance thrown into the mix as well, adding to the plot rather than detracting from it.
Overall – fairly entertaining without being the best book ever.
Fast-paced and violent – as well as interesting and not least a bit educational. I know more about New Zealand now than before I cracked the spine on the book.
4 from 5
Author Nick Spill is an Englishman who spent a couple of decades in New Zealand before relocating to Florida. He was kind enough to send me a copy in return for a review.
I'm already interested in this one, Col, mostly because of the setting. And it does sound like a solid story, too. I may have to keep a look out for this one.ReplyDelete
There was a lot to like about it Margot - the time frame, the setting, the politics and of course... drugs and plenty of them!Delete
Col, I don't think I have ever read any novel set in New Zealand. I can't associate this beautiful country with a drug war but the story does sound interesting.ReplyDelete
Prashant, I haven't read too much that has been set there myself. The only other author I think I have come across is Paul Thomas.Delete
I love the cover. The story sound interesting and the setting is a plus.ReplyDelete
Tracy, I'd like to read more set in NZ, but I don't have too much in the tubs.Delete
I think the only NZ crime stories I've read were by Ngaio Marsh - I'm guessing this is very different!ReplyDelete
I haven't tried Marsh yet Moira, but I would imagine that you're correct in your assumption.Delete
Thanks for reviewing this one Col (I haven't got to it yet myself). Plenty of Kiwi crime novels to try, including many that are more readily available for overseas readers nowadays. Marsh set four of her 32 Alleyn tales in New Zealand (perhaps give DIED IN THE WOOL or ARTISTS IN CRIME a go), Paul Thomas's Ihaka series is great, and pretty 'New Zild' as we'd say. Late last year Ben Sanders released a New Mexico thriller, AMERICAN BLOOD, that got good reviews and Hollywood interest, but his earlier trilogy was set in modern-day Auckland. Of course Edgar nominee Paul Cleave's books are set in his hometown of Christchurch (a very dark, semi-gothic version), and the likes of Paddy Richardson, Vanda Symon, Donna Malane, Alix Bosco and others have produced some fantastic New Zealand-set crime writing in recent years. One of my fave NZ-set books of the past year is INSIDE THE BLACK HORSE, written by Canadian-born Ray Berard, who immigrated to NZ years ago. It's set against a backdrop of indigenous gangs, corporate chicanery, small-town rural life etc. All of these should be fairly available for overseas readers, though the prices may vary depending on if they got US/UK publishers or imported from Aust/NZ or ebook versions etc. All worth checking out.ReplyDelete
Craig cheers for stopping by.Delete
Paul Thomas is an old favourite of mine. His first Ihaka's came out in the UK in the 90s and I've sort of kept tabs on his books ever since. I bought the Berard after reading your review - not yet read it though.
I haven't crossed paths with any of the others you mention, but I'm minded to look up the earlier Sanders' books. I have a few titles from Chad Taylor in my collection - another NZ author, but I'm not sure if he ticks all the mystery-crime classification boxes.