Twistera mystery set in Dunedin

Jane Woodham

Dunedin, in the grip of an unseasonal flu, is a city under siege. Then, after five damaging days of rain, a twister rips through, exposing the body of a missing schoolgirl in Ross Creek.

Detective Senior Sergeant Leo Judd is the only one who can lead the investigation despite unresolved sorrow over the disappearance of his own daughter nine years earlier.

Sultry weather broods over the beleaguered city as suspects are sifted and pressure mounts for Leo to solve the crime. Meanwhile, his wife Kate tries to summon the courage to tell him the secrets she’s nursed for too long — including one about the disappearance of their beloved Beth.

 …  (a) most impressive first novel … I was captivated … I guess you could call it a cross between crime fiction and family drama. No matter how you define it, it is a superb piece of writing. Bookman (Graham) Beattie

Hard copy available in good bookshops or from Mākaro Press.

Sample the story below.


Judd walked carefully along one edge of the raised concrete channel towards where a tarpaulin screen had been erected. At one section he had to jump down a couple of feet. Water flowed along the channel and the concrete was slippery with moss. He took his time. He found Cole crouching over the body. Detective Phil Priest, towering over her, looked as if he could keel over at any moment. She shot a sideways look at Judd.
‘You know, Judd, there are times when you could never be mistaken for anything but English.’
Judd raised his umbrella in acknowledgement.
‘But, now that you’ve finally graced us with your presence …’
Judd jammed his umbrella under his left armpit, and reached instinctively into his jacket pocket for the small jar of Vicks. He twisted off the lid and smeared a generous dollop under his nose. ‘I was in Invercargill.’
‘I’ve done you a favour, then.’
He smiled. ‘Something like that.’
Judd concentrated on the girl’s clothes. Priest, not so savvy, looked grey under his summer tan. The girl lay on her back in a beige and orange blouse and light-coloured shorts. Cole was pulling lengths of weed from her face, a face that had once been pretty but was now bloated beyond recognition.
Judd gestured at Priest. ‘Getting everything down?’ Or should he have said ‘keeping’?



The rain was easing. A breeze cooled her sweaty neck. In the near silence she turned, looking back the way they’d come. A shard of light from behind the hills lit the clouds from beneath, reducing the sea to a strip of turquoise fringed with dazzling white foam. Stars wavered overhead. The air smelled of rusting metal, small creatures scurried along the tideline, and the water inside her socks felt strangely warm.
They would spend the coming night in the hut, sheltered under a steel roof, but this would remain. All night the sea would heave and suck and break, the sand dry to a crumbling crust, crabs scuttle into deep holes, and stars shimmer and sparkle like paparazzi on Oscar night. Only her footprints would fade.
Each entity had a timeline. The stars under which she walked were over a billion years old, the carpet of quartz, feldspar and mica beneath her shoes, a million. She stooped to pick up a shell and ran her fingernail along its ridges. A dozen years old, at the most. Everything was relative. Three score years and ten for an adult, seventeen for a child. Tonight her smallness was reassuring. There had to be a limit, didn’t there, to the damage someone so insignificant could do to the world?



He was ignoring her. She knew the signs. ‘Leo, what were you doing at McDowell’s house?’
‘What? Oh, the missing girl. Tracey Wenlock. We found her body.’ He glanced over at her.
‘I saw that in the paper. Murder?’
A low flying wood pigeon whooshed by, causing him to duck. They followed its path as it swooped up, bared its breast to the setting sun and plummeted towards the harbour.
‘We’re not sure. The autopsy was inconclusive. We’re just treating it as a homicide. You know the drill: start high, whittle it down.’
She studied him. He was tanned from all his gardening and with the usual high colour on his cheeks looked healthy enough, but the way he was picking at the wine label with his thumb, avoiding her eye, worried her. ‘We? I thought Thompson was heading the enquiry.’
‘He was. But he’s come down with the flu. They’ve passed the case to me.’ He reached for the bottle, went to pour another glass, held the bottle up to the light and shook it.
‘How do you feel about that?’
He raised his eyebrows. For a moment he didn’t answer. ‘I had to inform her parents. Nice couple.’
‘Like us’ hung in the air between them.


Daughters of Messene

Maggie Rainey-Smith

Artemis has the name of a goddess, but she has trouble living up to it. Instead she usually just runs away. She’s running now … away from the married man she’s been seeing, and the Greek community in New Zealand who think they know what’s best, and into the arms of family in the Peloponnese that she’s never met. It’s 2007. She carries her mother’s ashes and an iPod with recordings, which bit by bit tell the shocking story of what happened to Artemis’ grandmother during the Greek Civil War, over half a century earlier.

Daughters of Messene is a story of a family of women – those who stayed in that broken but beautiful country, one who went to the ends of the earth to escape what she’d seen, and another who returned not knowing what it was she was looking for. A powerful third novel by Maggie Rainey-Smith.

Digging for SpainA Writer's Journey

Penelope Todd

"I like to think there’s a story already sealed within each of us. Some of us take a long time to uncover, decipher and assent to it. We start our search when we find that the stories we’ve attached ourselves to prove no longer accurate, their themes too limited … I’m talking about the midlife quest we’re invited on when all we’ve abandoned or ignored of our earlier impulses towards life begin to clamour for attention. … I knew I was in some kind of trouble the day my finger started jumping."

The Year of Falling

Janis Freegard

When the porcelain dolls start turning up on Selina’s doorstep, she knows it’s a bad sign. Shortly afterwards she embarks on an ill-judged affair with a celebrity TV chef. Both events, and the lies and untold truths at their heart, precipitate a spectacular fall from grace for high-flying graphic artist, Selina.

Enter Smith: the sister who saved Selina once before. But this time Smith’s life is complicated by a small boy called Ragnar, and she’s almost too late.

Peace Warriors

Raymond Huber

A war hero who refused to fight, students who stood up to Hitler, a ship that sailed into a nuclear test zone, a whole town which practiced non-violence. Peace Warriors tells the dramatic stories of people who chose non-violent resistance in times of conflict—stories of young men and women from New Zealand and around the world.

For readers ten years and older, with colour images, discussion pages and useful links to other resources.

The Book of Hat

Harriet Rowland

Harriet Rowland — known as Hat — was 17 when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Throughout her journey with cancer, Hat kept a blog. This is her unexpected story.

Her writing is funny and truthful and wise, exactly like the Harriet we got to meet when she visited the set last year. Peter Jackson, filmmaker

The real ’The Fault in Our Stars‘. Auckland libraries

Fields of Gold

Pam Morrison & Annie McGregor

In the wake of news that her only sister, Annie McGregor, had terminal cancer, Pam Morrison began to write a journal. Very soon it became a shared container; a form of slow dialogue between the two, and a way to capture the mystery, beauty and bewilderment of their lives.

A glorious, tragic, strong-hearted duet sung in celebration of life’s multiplicity in the face of death.

Albatrossthree stories

Carolyn McCurdie

‘Albatross’, ‘Collision’, ‘Wings of Stone’: three telling human collisions that examine discomfort and how people grope their way through it as they look for what makes sense and find (if they’re lucky) some true thing about the other, and so about themselves.

Carolyn McCurdie writes with a poet’s lightness, a novelist’s grit and realism.

The Desert Roada novella

Lynn Davidson

Returning home for the first time in eight years, Tess hears the house nibbling and ticking around her as it used to; she takes in the familiar iron and dirt smell of the cold here in Turangi where she grew up.

With its penetrating narrative eye and finely honed prose, Lynn Davidson’s story gathers to a shocking — then a tender — denouement.

The Linen Waya memoir

Melissa Green

Protégée of Walcott and Brodsky, Melissa Green nonetheless lived a knife-edge existence between poetry and despair, in a pendulum-swing between fervent, luminous writing and sudden, ferocious bouts of suicidal illness.

… having travelled to the outer reaches of human experience … with a fine-tuned lyre and Odyssean strength of purpose, Melissa Green reports her discoveries back home, in the language they demand. Zireaux, poet