Hounds of the Underworld, by RABARTS & MURRAY

cover_Hounds of the UnderworldI feel as if Dan or Lee, or both, wrote to the background of AC/DC’s If you want Blood, You’ve got it. Because blood is what links together the best of the worst events in this New Zealand futuristic gripper. Matiu – a “sidekick” to his sister Pandora, is haunted by a spirit being of whom, after his years of therapy, he thought he had gained control. Until he touched a bowl.
A simple bowl, but it draws blackness into him, and he sticks to Pandora’s side throughout her work – unofficially – on a police murder case.
Which evolves into a multiple crime. Penny (Pandora) finds herself in situations a simple lab technician should not need to be in; but she too is gripped by the need for resolution – and by worry over Matiu’s changed state.

Rabarts and Murray have solid research behind the story, set in the 2020s, a future in which is revealed a most plausible system of agricultural production and city life. All the more awful is the juxtaposition of the past spiritual elements against daily life, which chill your bones. You’ll find yourself underlining, highlighting, re-reading…just because you want to.

Here’s one of many passages I loved…underlining mine…


Penny can’t understand why her parents insist on treating her like a twelve year-old. She’d called for a driver, not a damned babysitter. The last thing she needs is Matiu tagging along like a piece of soggy toilet paper stuck to her shoe. She clamps her lips shut and glances back. And just look at him: head down, shoulders slumped, hands stuffed in the pockets of his leather jacket. He’s the one behaving like a sulky teen. Why does he have to go talking to himself when they’re out in public, anyway? Mumbling under his breath to his imaginary friend… She steps through the doorway, noting its splintered frame, and is confronted by a human wookie. Two metres plus, with oversized hands, and long overdue for a haircut.

“Who the fuck are you?” it bellows.

Penny jumps, startled. “I was called…”

Get a grip, Penny. You’re not here to audition for Miss Muffet. You have a right to be here…

“You the lab girl? The one that Noah Cordell recommended? Pandora somebody? Cordell swore you were reliable; I expected you half an hour ago.”

Penny tries not to bristle at the slight. After all, this is work. And apart from a few tests—some simple DNA analyses to resolve a private paternity suit and routine monitoring of the blooms stinking up the city’s beaches—there hasn’t been much cause to turn on the fumehood since she left LysisCo. She squares her shoulders, extends her hand.

Suck it up, girl.


The tone is light, especially that first paragraph I’ve dropped in here. Imagery via words – as underlined – is the strength of their writing. Maybe I could have picked something more thrilling…but not all would be able to not squirm.
Note: expect a distance interview to be posted soon.
Māori language (phrases or words) are used, and a glossary of translations aids the non-kiwi reader.

Publishing details?

Hounds of the Underworld © 2017 by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray
Publisher Raw-Dogs-Screamingof Bowie, MD
First Edition; Printed in the United States of America
Cover Image: Daniele Serra; Book Design: Jennifer Barnes
ISBN: 978-1-935738-96-1

Buy at  Amazon
Read more about Dan and Lee at Red Dog Screaming


More about the Hounds of the Underworld:

 

On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. And with seventeen murder cases on the go, the surly inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving. But something about the case spooks Matiu, something other than the lack of a body in the congealing pool of blood in the locked room or that odd little bowl.

Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.

Hounds of the Underworld blends mystery, near-future noir and horror. Set in New Zealand it’s the product of a collaboration by two Kiwi authors, one with Chinese heritage and the other Māori. This debut book in The Path of Ra series offers compelling new voices and an exotic perspective on the detective drama.

Amortals – an oldie but what a goodie!

Forbeck's AmortalsSome while back, dreaming of writing a sci-fi or similar novel, I had a few ideas to use. A city with its streets named as for a Battleships game, or a spreadsheet…avenues named A to Z, with the streets crossing them numbered 1 and onward. Buildings towering high over the poor.

Dammit. Forbeck had beaten me to it, back in 2010, although I, c. 2016, had never heard of him, nor read Amortals. {Hangs head in shame.}

There’s a helluva lot more to Amortals, though.
Imagine being rich, powerful or fortunate enough to be able to have your body cloned, so when you die your “memories” is transferred to the clone—if you’ve gone in to store a backup—who renews your life…you never really die.

Imagine being the first ever, now old enough to have six generations descended from you. Imagine you have been part of an investigative organisation, for years. Imagine a female President—in 2168.
Imagine believing you are the only living version of yourself.

Imagine you’re known as Methuselah, and you’ve been amortal for two hundred years, and you are Agent Dooley, Ronan Dooley. Your eyes have artificial lenses implanted, hooked to nanoservers, via which you can call up any data layer you need. You have been killed and recloned many times.

The Amortals Project has become the most vital government program in the world. You work now, this lifetime, for the FBI – a corporate body in this century. The case for your latest lifetime?
To find out who murdered you, and why…

As Dooley works with his partner – he chose her himself in his last lifetime, but does not remember (no backup) – his discoveries are unsettling, as he realises he has not really had a good grasp of the project which began with him as its first cloning. And, unless you are already a Forbeck fan, the journey to resolution will surprise you with its cross-over of reality and technology. A masterpiece…

Matt- ForbeckLearn more about Matt Forbeck here.

Use the buy links at Forbeck’s site,

or buy directly from…

 

Private Paris, by James Patterson

AB-16 Tag ex Private ParrisA piece of tagging, appearing any and everywhere among the streets of Paris, seems innocuous enough…its meaning obtuse, but not overtly offensive; more a puzzle, really, or a code, with no meaning – yet.
Not exactly a top priority for either the Paris La Crim force or the Private Paris agency.

Jack Morgan arrives in Paris from Berlin, but what was Patterson-J_Private Parisa routine office visit becomes a case involving a girl kidnapped or missing, who may or may not want to be found. Rescued yes, but not detained.

While tracing Kimberley, Jack discovers Paris’s hidden world of crime, murder, cultural clashes, arms trading – all among the idolatry of its cultural icons of the arts, fashion and culinary expertise. The missing girl’s case becomes secondary to a world of pseudo terrorism, and Kimberley is pivotal to both.

There are many characters for the reader to keep track of as they come and go, but the plot easily meshes together all the elements of a conspiracy undreamed of. This is the eleventh of the Private series, another I’ll have to pick up on at number one, and was written with Mark Sullivan.

Publishing in 2016 by Century, for Penguin Random House

ISBN:
Paperback – 978-1-780-89279-5
Hardback   – 978-1-780-89278-8

Reviewed for distributors Booksellers NZ

In The Cold dark Ground, by Stuart MacBRIDE

With the imminent death of Aberdeen’s crime boss,
McRae is drawn into the takeoverMacBRIDE_Stuart-In The Cold Dark Ground battle between crime leaders from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen Liverpool and Birmingham. But he is compromised by a financial deal made years ago.

Faced also with the inevitable prospect of taking life support from his girlfriend, his mind in in a mess.

Competing leaders vying for Wee Hamish Mowatt’s Aberdeen empire complicate ongoing murder investigations and his own position as Sergeant in Banff – if not his job with Police Scotland.

So many twists, so many turns…you have to read it to believe it, as they are only part of the background to the ongoing investigation into the missing Fraserburgh businessman, Martin Milne. Not a simple locate-and-return mission.

Oh – and there’s a new Superintendent on her way up to Aberdeen and Banff…

Blood and guts, battles and falls, night hunts – this has it all.

Another masterpiece in the ongoing saga of Ian McRae and DI Steele.

(Great quote …
’Head feels like someone’s scooped everything out and replaced it with a fat kid on a pogo stick.’
Virtual beer for whoever knows whose hangover this is!)

 

Paperback ISBN:978-0-00-749466-8

Published by Harper Collins Publishers
UK release date: 14 January

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Find your local NZ distributor here

 

NZ release date: March (go and order it now)

 

My Name Is N. by Robert KARJEL

KARJEL-My Name Is NIn this mystery cum crime novel, Karjel takes us back and forth between 2004 December in Thailand and 2008 in the US. Ernst Grip serves as security for the Swedish Security Police, but occasionally is called back to his former role as an agent. This time his boss sends him for the Swedish Foreign Ministry to work with the Justice Department of the US about a crime committed in Topeka .

Before the latest assignment, he worked with five people who met after the Tsunami of 2004 in Thailand. This group carries a grudge against the loud-speaking leader of a conservative church, and Grip assists them in taking revenge for his outrageous public derogatory spume against the tsunami victims.

His current assignment takes him to the US, then to a remote secure island in the Indian Ocean, under the “management” of an FBI agent. His task is to try and confirm whether a captive of the US security is a fellow Swede. The captive will not speak, but Grip manages to break through and learns enough of his background and suffering to put together the full picture.

Grip’s own risky position is resolved, but only in the final chapter do we realise the disturbing link between them all.

Karjel uses time swapping to good effect. We gather the bits and pieces of the mystery as each part of the twisted plot is revealed. His dialogue reflects the thought processes of the characters, conveying their urgency, their doubts, their dreams. And we, the reader, become intent on sorting out the tangled threads that form a tight knot. And when the final end of the last thread is pulled out–what is on the end we probably will not have seen coming.

Karjel original published this as De Redan Döda in 2010. This translation (by Nancy Pick) has been released in June 2015.

ddb84-harpercollinsuk2blogo

ISBN: 9780007586028
ISBN 10: 0007586027

Reviewed for

Find your local NZ distributor here
Find your local NZ distributor here

The Girls, by Lisa JEWELL

JEWELL_The GirlsA closed London suburban community, centred around a developed common garden is the least place to expect anything out of the ordinary. Some families are of three generations of residency around its border. Children use the garden and its planned areas for play and exploration. All seems peaceful.

Until a disturbing incident reveals their dubious background and events from the past are dragged into the here and now.

The most recently arrived residents – Clare and her daughters Grace and Pip – have brought with them their own story and trauma. As the two girls are gradually accepted by the Garden’s children, their mother is drawn into socialising with other parents. Over months we become more and more uneasy about the manner of each resident’s stories. We follow Clare’s experiences among the community as she learns more about them and their past interaction: a man with a reputation, an elderly woman who has observed it all, a child neglected by her mother, the family whose three daughters are home-schooled, a young boy who cares for his adult brother’s welfare. Both Clare and Adele (the home-schooling mother) are drawn into following the trail of the children’s play, and in doing so learn of events more and more disturbing.

At first, in spite of the crime occurring in the first chapter, the domesticity of each family seemed of little interest. But as the back story worked its way through the lead up to the crime, I was drawn into the same feelings of worry felt by any protective mother, as Clare discovers more and more detail about her neighbours and their children. On reading through to the end, I have to adjudge the writer’s ability to entangle a reader in the mesh of the community as being superbly deceptive and enthralling. I am glad I had the opportunity to read Lisa Jewell’s thirteenth novel – and have a lot of catch up reading to do now.

Publisher: Century, for
penguin-random-house
ISBN: 9781780893594
Release Date: 26 June 2015

Locate your Booksellers NZ outlet here
Locate your Booksellers NZ outlet here

Day Four, by Sarah LOTZ

There’s a right mix of personalities among the crew and Fay Fourpassenger list on a cruise ship such as the Beautiful Dreamer – along with the usual “beautiful people”, boozers and habitual cruisers are two women planning a double suicide, an addicted ship’s doctor, a couple in which the wife is a player, a murderer, a cheesy cruise director, and a “mystic” whose charismatic appeal to fans seeking messages from “the other side” is the central focus.

What could go wrong? Nothing – for the first three days.

We follow individual characters, passenger or crew, as they move about the ship, coping with the sudden shut-down of the cruiser. No Wifi, no radio, no contact with the rest of the world. No power to the engines. No working sewerage system. No power in the kitchens for cooking or keeping food fresh.

A virus breaks out, disabling more and more as it rampages among those on board – except for the mystic – Celine del Rey – and her followers. Her personal assistant, Maddie, has her loyalty stretched as Celine affects more and more passengers. A blogger intent on exposing her as a fraud creates in Maddie questions about her loyalty to Celine.

A body is found, assumed choked to death on her own vomit. Although a crewman reviewing security footage spots the vague figure of a man leaving her cabin, he cannot convince senior crew to follow up. The cruise company has a history of unusual events, and of covering them up.

As the virus spreads, and living conditions worse, there comes the inevitable disastrous storm. The cruiser, with no power and adrift without communication is tossed in the storm, and the crew panic and abandon ship. Passengers also abandon ship, but none are ever recovered.

Why did the ship shut down? What happened to those who abandoned ship? What happened when the ship, restored to working order, nears land. What has happened in the city during what seems to be months of decay or worse?

And what happens to the few who stay on board, after the cruiser takes Celine and her followers to an island she reassures them will be a safe haven from the disaster on shore, and are finally rescued and taken off the ship?

“Transcript extracts” of interviews with these last remaining people raise more questions for the reader than provide explanations. Warning: the closing chapter is an even more unsettling closure of this supernatural thriller.

Hatchett_UK_logoHodder & Stoughton  for Hatchette UK,

ISBN: Hardback   – 978 1 444 77536 5
Paperback – 978 1 444 77536 2
EBook         – 978 1 444 77540 2

NZ Release date late may 2015

Locate your Booksellers NZ outlet here
Locate your Booksellers NZ outlet here