The mystery of Alix Bosco solved?

coverWhat does this mean? For Kiwi crime writing fans it means the elusive author Alix Bosco, who won last year’s Ngaio Marsh Award, will appear on stage at the 2011 awards where he/she is also a finalist with her book Slaughter Falls .  Last year’s no show sparked wild conjecture as to who Alix Bosco is. Suspects include Greg McGee, Rosie Scott, television writer Maxine Fleming, and former Prime Minister Helen Clark !

Other finalists for the award for best crime, mystery, or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident, published in New Zealand during the previous year:

As well as the Boo Radley moment in New Zealand crime publishing, the awards evening will feature international authors Tess Gerritsen and John Hart. It should be an great event in the TelstraClear Club at Hagley Park on Sunday 21 August. Get your tickets now.

One out of the box: Winter by Rod Rees

Much like this post, Rod Rees’ Winter is the first in a series.  I found it, literally, in a box of new books I was unpacking. It looks delicious – shiny,  with an old-fashioned globe on the front.  It also has a killer series title – The Demi-Monde.  Further inspection reveals it lives up to its promise.

The premise is that the United States military has developed a virtual reality training programme that fully immerses soldiers in a created world.  Locked in a kind of Victorian steampunk era, the Demi-Monde is populated with historical figures, and not nice ones.

In order to replicate the reality of today’s ‘asymmetric warfare’, with its unholy mix of terrorism, warlords, drug cartels and factions, the world is divided into four quarters, each with a particular social or religious profile, then stacked with despots and megalomaniacs, from Crowley to Heydrich, Robespierre to Beria, and more.

It sounds complicated, but it isn’t, once you get the hang of it.  The sympathetic lead is a young woman called Ella who (for various reasons) is the only one who can enter the world and save the President’s kidnapped daughter. From this angle, it’s a simple thriller adventure plot.

I have to say the characters aren’t as easy to bond with as I’d have liked, but the story and the audacious concept make up for this.  It’s an incredibly detailed and beautifully realised world, and I’m hanging out for number two already.  Oh, and as an ‘extra for experts’ kind of bonus, the website for the books is a thing of true beauty.

One out of the box is a regular series of new  material available at your library.