The Gangster, by Clive Cussler

“He heard footsteps. Then labored breathing. The hoboCUSSLER-C_The Gangster_cover
limped into the trees. He saw Bell, plunged a hand into his coat, and whipped out a knife in a blur of starlight on steel. Run? Thought Bell. Not and turn his back on the knife. He grabbed the heavy satchel to block the knife, and formed a fist.”

My first – but definitely not my last — foray into Cusslers’ works, The Gangster, is a well constructed presentation of the early nineteen-hundreds New York world of the wealthy, the poor; exploited immigrant workers and old school family; gangs and victims; the murderous and the law keepers.

It revolves around the ever-growing enterprise of Branco driving his way up from labourer on the run to the top of the criminal killing chain. His scheming is well spread, well executed, all the while working in secret. His final goal? Well, let me just say…someone as high as you could get in 1906 US.

In his way are the city police and the highly respected Van Dorn Detective Agency, whose top agent Isaac Bell had met Branco years earlier when involved in high jinks while at Yale.

Fast paced, the scene shifts turn the tale to something as close to an action movie as any novel can get, while the Prologue allows new readers such as me (or am I the only one?) an effective introduction to both characters.

This is Cussler’s ninth in the Isaac Bell series, co-authored with Justin Scott (as have been all but the first). I would have appreciated seeing the credits for the art work prefacing sections of the book; they are a perfect “match” to the style and setting.

Published by Michael Joseph imprint of Penguin Random house NZ,

Hardback:  978-0-718-18287-8
Paperback: 978-0-718-18286-1

US Release date: March 1st.
NZ Release is scheduled for April
Reviewed for distributors Booksellers NZ

For earlier  titles in the Isaac Bell series, visit the author’ official site…


Cross Fingers by Paddy RICHARDSON

Cross Fingers

author Paddy Richardson

If asked to produce a televisions documentary on the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand, how would you go about putting a new spin on it when it’s been hashed and rehashed in news media so many times? 
That’s a quandary faced by Rebecca Thorne, television journalist, in a gripping story of sleuthing, old case files, stalking and personal danger, as she strives to find not only a ‘new angle’ but once found, to follow it up and learn how it was resolved.

Paddy Richardson puts us in Rebecca’s place, and we follow the leads, interview the relevant parties to the acts of rebellion and hostility during the tour, read police interview files from the time, and meet some of the families and people who took part in the tour protests (or in the police Squads).

This was a thoroughly enjoyable, “not putting it down till I’ve finished” read. Richardson’s intriguing plot line allows her to use the technique of slipping “old files” into the current story line  smoothly and realistically; no sense of a producer calling “cut” between takes old and new. And the “old files” are so realistically like a police report they are utterly believable.

Her unique twist on an historical event is conveyed in such a believable style I’ve caught myself Wiki’ing the tour and the police squads and protests. She has sparked something – I have a question I can’t mention here as it would be a spoiler if I did. And this is one book I’d suggest parents bought for their offspring too young to have been aware of how that tour affected New Zealand. It’s fiction, sure – but Richardson provides real food for thought better than any History teacher ever could!

I don’t usually “rate” with my reviews, but for Cross Fingers I will – 10 out of 10, for readability, for a well-told twist of crime vis á vis community, for writing a crime story in a unique style.

2013, Auckland, Hatchette New Zealand
ISBN: 978-1-86971-307-2

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