The Manger, the Mikdash and the Mosque


1975: Former detective and spy-catcher Dan Delaney and his West Auckland family are on a visit to the Holy Land which goes horribly wrong from the moment they land at Ben-Gurion Airport. A plot is underway to desecrate the most sacred sites and incite conflict between the three great religions whose worship centres on a small area of inner Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities are determined at any cost to prevent another terrorist outrage such as that at Ben-Gurion Airport concourse a few years before, or worse, the recent surprise Yom Kippur attack that threatened the nation’s survival. Old enemies have put Delaney’s family in the crosshairs of their planned outrages. This is the fifth Dan Delaney mystery.  Roger Hall: ‘Cracking yarn.’ Fiona Kidman: ‘A vivid inside view of Israel as well as rattling along with a fast-paced crime story.’ Graeme Lay: ‘The tautly structured plot of this thriller grips the reader from the first to the final page. Set in the so-called Holy Land, the novel’s characters and themes are as meaningful today as they were during the 1970s setting. Jerusalem – spiritual home to Jews, Moslems and Christians – is vividly evoked and forms a vibrant backdrop to the conflicts and tribulations of the Delaney family.’ Paperback NZ$29.95 from publisher or bookshops, ebook NZ$7.50 from – or from Amazon.

Death of an Agent


Easter 1965: the fiery start to protests against New Zealand troops in Vietnam Ru Patterson, the country’s leading broadcaster, is organizing protests against President Johnson’s envoy Henry Cabot Lodge, in Wellington to pressure New Zealand to send troops to Vietnam. Dan Delaney is first on the scene of a young naked woman dead in a hot tub and Ru unconscious beside her. Dan interferes with evidence to protect his friend. The NZ Security Intelligence Service continues the deceased agent’s attempts to sideline Patterson and infiltrate students threatening violence, including an anarchist attracted to arson. Delaney is dragooned into helping the authorities, threatening his personal relationships with Ru and his daughter Hinemoa, Dan’s goddaughter. Hine is a headstrong young drama student mixed up in marijuana trafficking and in mad, crazy love with an older student who treats her no better than the parts they play, Hamlet and Ophelia. With Ru sidelined, Dan is well aware of his duty of care. Delaney is caught up in gang and police threats against Hine, a police raid on a suspected marijuana dealer, an SIS interrogation, the planting of an incendiary device in a student theatre, an unexpected encounter with Prime Minister Keith Holyoake, student confrontation at Lodge’s airport arrival and an incendiary incident at Parliament, with Special Task Force marksmen surrounding the building. The stability of the ANZUS alliance and Dan’s family life depend on the outcome. Murray Gray, Founding Director, Going West Books & Writers’ Festival, said of the first three Dan Delaney stories: ‘McGill’s trilogy of local thrillers are all pacy novels that are informed by honest and astute social histories. He imagines political incidents and crafts satisfying narrative action around them that opens up an alternative [...]

On a Bodgie Bike


Eighth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Steal Matt Delaney and his mate Ante Vukovich steal a precious religious vessel and in the course of the burglary a man is killed, setting in motion personal and political mayhem. It is 1955 and they just want to be milk-bar cowboys against the squares and their suffocating rules banning unmarried sex and excessive speed and anything worth doing. Matt’s uncle Dan Delaney is out of the police and in a dead-end job when Matt’s alcoholic mother begs Dan to sort out a charge of murder against her son. They live in what is called West Auckland’s Dallie Valley, Ante is Dalmatian and his Croatian relation has arrived to reclaim the religious icon that could unite his homeland challenge to Yugoslav communist rule. Dan Delaney’s only ally against corrupt and brutal police is an ex-Commissioner of Police assisting the National Government clean up the police and establish a separate security intelligence service. This is the third outing for former detective and spy catcher Dan Delaney. In The Death Ray Debacle Delaney thwarts a 1935 plot to kidnap a New Zealand scientist who invented what we now call radar and lasers. ‘A fast-paced action spy story … builds to a great climactic finish. If this is ever made into a film the director will need not look any further for an accurate chronicle.’ Tim Gruar, Booksellers NZ In The Plot to Kill Peter Fraser Delaney thwarts a 1945 assassination plot to kill the prime minister. ‘The plot unfolds with twists, turns and lots of action … What I really loved about this book is the way it presents New Zealand plonk in the middle of international political history.’ Alyson Baker, Crime Watch ‘McGill’s [...]

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 [...]