The Plot To Kill Peter Fraser


‘Dangerous Nazi Ex-Internees Roaming New Zealand.’ NZ Truth Peter Fraser was our greatest prime minister on the international stage. He proved it as World War Two was ending and he played a major part in shaping the United Nations. In the process he made enemies. He is back in New Zealand, where a plot is under way to kill him. If it is successful, New Zealand’s influence on the international stage ends and the country descends into chaos, a divided country ripe for international manipulation. Former detective Dan Delaney returns from sitting out the war in Italian and German prison camps. All he wants is a peaceful life with his refugee bride, but his old boss Inspector Biggart needs his help, his staff disbanded by Fraser and Nazi internees released from Somes Island. The hunt for would-be Nazi assassins takes them into Wellington’s black market underworld, a defensive Italian fishing village and an upmarket yachting haven. Prodded by the Commissioner of Police, Dan reluctantly involves his wife in a dodgy cabaret scene, as Nazis are killed and British and Soviet spies Dan has previously clashed with arrive to assist a suspected American undercover operation. Dan and his wife risk their lives as they race to identify the threat before a prime minister refusing security is struck down.  Both a whodunnit and a who’lldoit, this Kiwi intrigue features Detective Delaney a decade after The Death Ray Debacle, which Tim Gruar described in the Booksellers NZ Blog as a ‘fast-paced action spy story’. 'It's a rollicking read. It's got all the great elements of a  spy novel, including a nice little twist at the end.' Grant Robertson, Wellington Central MP, speaking at the launch, 30/3/17 [...]

The Death Ray Debacle


In June 1935 Takapuna inventor Victor Penny was attacked by foreign agents seeking what the newspapers dubbed a ‘death ray’. The government secretly shifted him to Somes Island in Wellington harbour to develop the weapon. The novel of this true story is told by Temporary Acting Detective Dan Delaney, seconded to Special Branch, forerunner of the Security Intelligence Service. Special Branch is monitoring the German Club in Auckland, an increasingly shrill supporter of the Nazi regime. The unconventional Auckland theatrical scene has made sensational headlines with the alleged murder of his wife by impresario Eric Mareo, his accuser the bisexual dancer Freda Stark, lover of his deceased partner. A mysterious German/Jewish refugee has been involved in both the German Club and this Bohemian scene, making her a person of interest to the young detective and a recently arrived German diplomat. The detective and a helpful Scotland Yard adviser pursue and are pursued by spies determined to steal Penny’s blueprint. Round-the-clock protection is provided for Penny by armed soldiers on the supposedly secure Somes Island government facility, used to imprison enemy aliens in the Great War. Corruption on the island is uncovered by the detectives as they face lethal force to acquire an invention all major countries are actively chasing.   Using private, media and archival sources, the author reveals the hidden layers threatening a country emerging out of the Depression with little idea of the forces about to plunge it into another world war. Foreign agents want Victor Penny’s game-changing weapon, but also control of New Zealand’s role in the coming conflict. The author’s 52nd book depicts New Zealand at the crossroads of change, for better and for worse. 'Romped through the book about Vic [...]

Kingfisher, Kingfisher, Take My Luck


These book memoirs record half a century writing and sometimes publishing 51 Kiwi social histories, some fictional, some best-sellers, some footnotes, reviews from savage to sublime, and strong reactions: Muldoon threatens prison Helen Clark sends warm congratulations Mike Hosking asks who is the clown in the kilt Kim Hill supposes marriage Carmen says thanks and Kiri no thanks Jason Gunn enjoys a joke, John Clarke an imaginary quote All Blacks duck for cover ‘I was so arrested by what is really a history of the author's writing and publishing life that I couldn't put it down and read it in one long sitting yesterday.’ Graham Beattie, Beattie’s Book Blog, 7 November 2014 Available from this website at $36-95, including postage and packaging. Buy Now  

Stamp in the Creek


A week after the infamous 1949 April Fool’s Day radio hoax reported a swarm of wasps descending on Auckland, there is news of the second ever invert New Zealand stamp found in the small Bay of Plenty village of Kotuku. The source is the village postmaster Jack Cavanagh, who has already alarmed the authorities with his penchant for attracting publicity. Not only did he propose the new White Island stamp, he is claiming an inverted misprint is among the contents of his Post Office safe stolen and blown up. It is election year and the fallout from the April Fool prank has the Police and Post Office hierarchy in a tailspin about this latest potential public relations disaster. This is the final in the comic Cavanagh family Up the Creek trilogy. In Gold in the Creek the village fought restructuring. Geyser in the Creek offered tourist salvation. Stamp in the Creek has the youthful postmaster facing departmental disapproval and the disappearance of his son after witnessing the theft of the safe. The stationmaster, the grocer and his baker wife, the village projectionist, the priest newly arrived from Ireland and other local stalwarts help Jack in his search for his son, while unscrupulous outsiders stop at nothing in their pursuit of the missing stamp, including kidnap, arson, blackmail, stand-over tactics and car conversion. The police are diverted but the press home in, the story going national in Truth, fulfilling the worst fears of a public service scandal. Gold in the Creek reviews: ‘A veritable Milkwood of characters. A bit of a dag.’ NZ Listener ‘Colourful characters and dialogue add plenty of indigenous flavour to this cleverly-crafted tale.’ Daily Telegraph ‘Smart pace … many twists [...]

The Slightly Mysterious Little Drummer Boy Who Became Mayor of Auckland


This is a social biography of the life and times of 1880s Auckland mayor William Richard Waddel, written by his great-grandson. It is a pioneering story of how a drummer boy in Ireland emigrated at age 16 to Auckland. Despite losing his father his first year here, he became in seven years the leading baker in Auckland, rose to the rank of captain in its Volunteer Force and joined every civic organisation there was. On becoming mayor he beautified Albert Park, introduced trams to the city, built the first bridge over Grafton Gully, the magnificent public library and art gallery and the first fresh-water baths. As chairman of the Auckland Harbour Board he opened the Calliope Dock at Devonport. He was the first New Zealand mayor to sire a child in office. Half of Auckland attended the funeral of this hugely popular politician who presided over both the best and worst of times, expanding civic facilities and cutting back when depression hit, always with good humour and wit that endeared him to all citizens, never more so than when he replied in a Shakespearean pastiche to the civic gift on the birth of his boy. Growing up in Auckland and drawing on the memories and memorabilia of relations, the author contrasts the mayor’s Auckland with its present-day status, including photographs of then and now in both public and private capacities. This lavishly illustrated volume in extra large paperback, postage free, $37-95. Buy Now  

The Promised Land


Scottish lad Jamie Munro arrives in Port Nicholson in 1840 with his dying father, an ex-convict with a dream of a better life and equality for all in the Promised Land. Jamie returns from exploring the Hutt Valley to find his father dead and himself orphaned and dependent on the goodwill of settlers. He forms an unlikely friendship with a disenfranchised Maori lad, Koromako Rangitahi, only for land tensions between settlers and Maori to separate them. When the tensions flare into the violence and bloodshed at what became known as the Battle of Boulcott Farm, Jamie Munro is accused of aiding and abetting the Maori ‘rebels’ who killed seven soldiers, including young Drummer Allen, taking the bugle he used to signal the attack. Munro is offered the choice of trial for treason or assisting in the tracking down of the rebels, and in particular identifying Koro, who struck down Allen. 'A Kiwi Huckleberry Finn.' Michael O'Leary, author of Unlevel Crossings. 'I seem to get more of a picture of 'New Zealand' from historical novels like The Promised Land than I do from clever, contemporary literary works.' - Mark Pirie, poet, publisher, anthologist. 231 pages large format paperback, $35, with free postage. Buy Now  

The Compleat Cityscapes


The 244 Cityscapes heritage vignettes of Wellington houses and public structures written by David McGill and illustrated by Grant Tilly ran from 1976 to 1982 in the Evening Post newspaper. Pat Lawlor, the most celebrated chronicler of the earlier 20th century history of his beloved city, wrote about Cityscapes: ‘David McGill is a master of detail yet far removed from the dry academics of the average historian. He is chatty and amusingly observant of the personalities and characters he has met in his city explorations. Likewise Grant Tilly, although working in black and white line, manages to convey warmth and atmosphere as well … these two engaging fossickers of places of charm and character … the denizens embroidered with Dickensian skill.’ Pat Lawlor enthused about many Cityscapes subjects, including the atmosphere of the grand old Government Buildings, the Bolton Street graves and the charming summer house in the Botanic Gardens, the last vestiges of Chinatown, the still popular Thistle Inn where Te Rauparaha was an early patron, Tonks Avenue, Somerled House, Antrim House, Brittains Building, the Orient Private Hotel in Oriental Bay, before he ran out of space for more ‘recounting the memories that this delightful book has passed on to me’. This is the first complete collection of the long-running series on the capital city’s physical heritage and those who built and lived in it, too much of it swept away in the name of perceived progress. The sum total of these articles is an informal portrait in picture and prose of almost a century and a half in the ebb and flow of a pioneer village growing into a vibrant port and nation’s capital, harvesting the memories of life in the humblest worker cottages and the grandest structures in the land. Pat Lawlor said [...]

Geyser in the Creek


A geyser erupts in the sleepy Bay of Plenty village of Kotuku. It is good and bad news for locals last seen coping with a gold strike a generation ago. Retired postmaster Jack Cavanagh was enjoying the quiet life, but his good friend retired stationmaster Rangi Rangihau has disappeared after predicting a geothermal event. Former storekeeper Ron Atkinson is run off his feet selling his wife’s pies to the influx of tourists whom local iwi and a government department are vying for custom of, along with discreet brothel keeper Ruby Brough and local drug tsar Bob Rogers. Electronic media and social outlets go viral and set the government’s spin doctors into a tailspin with the recently merged Department of Conservation, Tourism and Environment getting its teats in a terrible tangle over lagoon preservation and geyser exploitation. When Jack’s grandson Jason also goes missing, the national Search and Rescue spotlight is on Kotuku, driving into hiding the one chance for the missing couple, a mistreated, pie-pilfering Great Dane. The NZ Listener identified ‘a veritable Milkwood of characters’ in Gold in the Creek, ‘a shaggy sheep tale that is a bit of a dag’. The characters are back and added to in a digitally enhanced satire on media and government attempts to tweet the tourist face of a quiet village. The whimsy of Whisky Galore, the furious farce of  Blott on the Landscape and the dinkum Kiwi way with words. 224 pages $24.95; ebook from and Amazon $4.99 Buy Now   'I just wanted to tell you that I have now read your Geyser in the Creek and enjoyed it. It was great fun to read. You've got a good ear for dialogue and Rata's raps were fun.' Winifred Jackson [...]

A Dictionary of Noughties Kiwi Slang


A Dictionary of Kiwi Slang for the New Millennium — some old, some new, some borrowed, often blue. This collection presents the active slang, catchphrases and colloquialisms in Kiwi use in the first decade of the new century and is the book of my new slang site launched on Beattie's Book Blog 1 August 2011. Faster than a speeding bullet, slang arrives, like bikoi and boy racer, codgerati and skywaka, honkyori and Hobbitocracy, Remuera Attack Vehicle and Tupperwaka, manus and munted, the last new to Mayor Bob Parker in the Christchurch February earthquake, next month he is briefing Prince William on this local slang. Fleeting vogue words help define the decade, notably Tigertigerumu,  Helengrad, Corngate and Paintergate.  Hanging in are golden oldies like a box of fluffy ducks, bandicooting, up the boohai and underground mutton. Then there are the goneburgers like komaty, Py korry, Porirua briefcase and Wanganella weather. This is the first Internet-driven, Google-tested collection of Kiwi slang, 3000 entries and explanations of slang that is distinctively Kiwi or particularly popular with New Zealanders. NZ$24.95, 202 pages Buy Now  

Shaking 1960


A coming-of-age story of sex, booze, rock ‘n’ roll and conscience set in the turmoil of the ‘No Maoris, No Tour’ protests, the Hastings Blossom Festival Riot and Elaine Miscall winning the Eastbourne Mardi Gras beauty contest. Students pushing personal and public boundaries in election year are shadowed by authorities who tilt pranks and free expression into wild parties and violent death. It was a turbulent year in the capital and country, as both protesters and a reinvigorated National Opposition challenge a tired Labour Government. Well-known Wellington figures of the time appear in its pages, including poet James K. Baxter, publisher Hugh Price, leftwing writer Conrad Bollinger, the inconoclastic Dr Erich Geiringer, restauranteur Harry Seresin, entertainment lawyer Bill Sheat, Wellington Teachers College lecturers Jack Shallcrass, Pat Mascaskill and Anton Vogt, politician Dan Riddiford, anarchist Bill Dwyer, playwright Bruce Mason, novelist Barry Crump, balladeer Peter Cape, café owner Mary Seddon, communist Rewi Alley, university lecturer Harry Orsman. There are a host of other figures from National Party Eastbourne to leftwing Kelburn lifestylers, student party animals, anarchist pranksters, prominent figures in the seminal year of student protest, and the cafe and streetwalkers’ world where a young Carmen was just emerging. 'The strength of the book is in its portrayal of the agony and awkwardness of the transition to adulthood.' - Elspeth McLean, Otago Daily Times 'What a splendid read ... You have made a major contribution to recording the 60s in this book.' Alister Taylor, Publisher. NZ$30, 286 pages. Available as e-book from and Amazon NZ$4.99 Buy Now