Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - READING ROOM -

THE LAST HOURS by Minette Wal­ters, Allen & Un­win.

Minette Wal­ters switches from crime writ­ing to his­toric fic­tion, ven­tur­ing into the time of the Black Death. It’s June 1348 and the dread­ful ill­ness shows no dis­crim­i­na­tion be­tween landed gen­try and serfs, as all fall prey to its hideous ram­page. In Dorset County, Lady Anne, in the ab­sence of her hus­band Sir Richard, takes charge and quar­an­tines her peo­ple within the grounds of the manor house, sep­a­rated from the con­ta­gious out­side world by wall and moat. Even her hus­band won’t be per­mit­ted en­try. Anne en­lists the sup­port of her serfs – in par­tic­u­lar the bas­tard slave, Thad­deus Thurkell – to help the group sur­vive. This en­rages her teenage daugh­ter, Eleanor, whose be­hav­iour is the cat­a­lyst for a ter­ri­ble event that forces a group to leave the safety of the manor. What will they find, and will they re­turn? The an­swers leave things well set up for next year’s se­quel.

A QUES­TION OF TRUST by Penny Vin­cenzi, Ha­chette.

In 1936, post­man’s son Tom Knel­ston and so­ci­ety beauty Diana South­cott are em­bark­ing on their adult lives. Tom has po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions, while Diana is set on se­cur­ing a wealthy hus­band. Over 20 years, their dis­parate lives in­ter­sect through the chang­ing land­scape of mid-cen­tury so­ci­ety. While Diana finds an un­ex­pected path to a re­ward­ing ca­reer, Tom re­mains com­mit­ted to his Labour Party val­ues, but is at risk of los­ing ev­ery­thing when the pair be­come en­gulfed in an il­licit pas­sion. He is fur­ther chal­lenged when a child’s life is in dan­ger, and he must make a choice that will threaten the very core of his be­liefs. A quintessen­tially Bri­tish romp.

ORI­GIN by Dan Brown, Pen­guin/ Ran­dom House.

The lat­est labyrinthine thriller from Dan Brown sees his hero Robert Lang­don, Har­vard pro­fes­sor of sym­bol­ogy and re­li­gious iconol­ogy, in Barcelona fight­ing for his own sur­vival as he seeks to un­ravel an­other sci­en­tific mys­tery. One that re­lates to a dis­cov­ery that will chal­lenge the world’s be­liefs about where hu­man­ity has come from and where it will go. Rich in ar­chi­tec­tural de­scrip­tions and deeply thought-pro­vok­ing, with the thrill of the chase as Robert en­deav­ours to out-run and out-smart his pur­suers, this will pro­vide new ex­cite­ment for fans of The Da Vinci Code and An­gels & Demons.

FORCE OF NA­TURE by Jane Harper, Macmil­lan.

If you’ve ever had to front up to a work-en­forced team-build­ing week­end, then you might iden­tify with the five women who are ran­domly picked by their firm to hike the rugged Gi­ralang Ranges in Aus­tralia. None of them seem overly happy to have been se­lected, par­tic­u­larly am­bi­tious A-type per­son­al­ity Alice Rus­sell. When the group re­turns from the ori­en­teer­ing ex­er­cise mi­nus Alice, a mas­sive search is mounted. This thrilling read brings back Jane Harper’s flawed Fed­eral Po­lice Agent Aaron Fall from her best­selling de­but The Dry,a novel op­tioned for movie de­vel­op­ment by Reese Wither­spoon, who re­cently won great ac­claim for Liane Mo­ri­arty’s Big Lit­tle Lies. Like the Mo­ri­arty crime-thriller, Force of Na­ture flits back­wards and forth in time to give you dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter per­spec­tives of how events un­folded. In do­ing so, it will keep you won­der­ing what re­ally hap­pened right up to the very end.

SWEET LIT­TLE LIES by Caz Frear, Allen & Un­win.

This thriller, set be­tween Ire­land and Lon­don, fol­lows De­tec­tive Con­sta­ble Cat Kin­sella as she in­ves­ti­gates a mur­der that has po­ten­tial ties to a per­sonal crime from her child­hood, when a girl she idolised dis­ap­peared and her wee bit dodgy dad might have played a part in it. Cat’s a fan­tas­tic lead char­ac­ter – darkly, darkly funny and good at her job – and this is a se­ri­ous rip­per of a read, par­tic­u­larly for a de­but novel.


An im­por­tant fig­ure in New Zealand’s lit­er­ary her­itage, Barry Crump pop­u­larised the rugged Kiwi out­door man in his comedic sto­ry­telling. Two decades af­ter his death, many of his books are now out of print, so it’s some­thing spe­cial to see five of his tales re­pub­lished in one vol­ume. The collection in­cludes his first, A Good Keen Man, and Wild Pork and Wa­ter­cress, which was the in­spi­ra­tion for the in­ter­na­tional movie suc­cess, Hunt for the Wilder­peo­ple.

SEVEN DAYS OF US by Francesca Hor­nak, Ha­chette.

For the Birch fam­ily, Christ­mas means seven days of quar­an­tine, due to daugh­ter Olivia’s re­turn from med­i­cal work in Africa. But be­ing con­fined to their Nor­folk home is not easy, es­pe­cially when two un­in­vited guests ar­rive and dev­as­tat­ing se­crets are re­vealed. Witty, em­pa­thetic and ideal for this time of year.

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