We cross live to one of New Zealand's finest independent bookstores, McLeods in Rotorua, where true-crime authors Jared Savage (Ganglands) and Steve Braunias (Missing Persons) recently spoke about their books to an audience of about 100. They are taking their double-act on the road and will appear at events nationwide.

This week’s biggest-selling New Zealand books, as recorded by the Nielsen BookScan New Zealand bestseller list and described by Steve Braunias


1 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)

From the Otago Daily Times earlier this week: “A creative-writing competition for prisoners at the Otago Corrections Facility is in full swing. Entries close in a month, when judges Becky Manawatu, Emer Lyons and Liam McIlvanney will choose their winners. Entrants only have to look to a couple of high-profile former inmates who found solace in literature. For Dr Paul Wood, jailed for a murder he committed when he was 18 years old, it took years before he realised the power of reading and writing behind bars. ‘Once I started reading, it completely changed my world,’ he told the Otago Daily Times. He was released from prison in 2006 after serving 11 years…Entrants [for the competition] have a limit of 600 words and prizes will be awarded for both short stories and poetry at the end of May.”

2 Inside the Black Horse by Ray Berard (David Bateman, $34.99)

“The TAB made me the area manager in South Auckland, supervising 50 gambling outlets…My book Inside the Black Horse is an account of years of events I recorded in my diary, compressed into five days after a desperate act by a young man with no options left,” wrote the author, in a condensed and compelling memoir in ReadingRoom. His novel has been adapted as Vegas, an excellent new drama series on TV2.

3 Cousins by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House, $26)

4 The Quiet People by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press, $37.99)

5 Spellbound by Catherine Robertson (Penguin Random House, $36)

“I held it [the launch for Spellbound] at a swanky wine bar with minimalist décor and dim lighting,” Catherine Robertson wrote in ReadingRoom this week, in a story about her move to live in Hawke’s Bay. “My friend, Judy, brought coloured ribbon to match the three covers and wrapped up sets for sale. For my first launch, she arranged my cheese platter and for this and many more kind gestures, I dedicated Spellbound to her. Peering around in the dim lighting, I realised just how many successful writers live here – romance, YA, crime, historical, memoir and Amanda Palmer, who came for drinks afterwards.”

6 Blood on Vines by Madeleine Eskedahl (Squabbling Sparrows Press, $34.95)

Crime novel set in Matakana.

7 Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press, $35)

England’s Sunday Times picked the Waikato writer’s latest as one of the best new historical novels for April, and wrote: “Are there new ways to tell stories of the Holocaust that are neither crass nor exploitative? In this moving and unusual novel, the New Zealand writer Catherine Chidgey shows that there are.”

8 Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh (Hachette, $34.99)

9 Everything Changes by Stephanie Johnson (Penguin Random House, $36)

10 Tell Me Lies by J.P. Pomare (Hachette, $29.99)


1 The Abundant Garden by Niva Kay & Yotam Kay (Allen & Unwin, $45)

Recipes, etc.

2 A High Country Life by Philippa Cameron (Allen & Unwin, $45)

Recipes, etc.

3 Aroha by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

Whatutaki, etc.


4 My Mother and Other Secrets by Wendyl Nissen (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

“Every family has secrets, shames, skeletons. In short, every family has stories. Nissen tells her family’s story with insight and good humour. It has a happy ending, of sorts. Dementia made her mother a nice person: ‘Finally I was getting the mother I had wanted all my life. Cheery, loving, sunshiny and pleasant to be with’”: from my review at ReadingRoom.

5 Supergood by Chelsea Winter (Penguin Random House, $50)

Recipes, etc.

6 Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail by Danielle Hawkins (HarperCollins, $37.99)

Charming rural memoir.

7 The Mirror Book by Charlotte Grimshaw (Penguin Random House, $38)

The Mirror Book has appeared at a particular cultural moment, when, to put it crudely, the authority of old white men is being challenged, whether they are fathers, bosses or presidents”: from a review by Philip Matthews at ReadingRoom.

8 Keepers by Cherie Metcalfe (Allen & Unwin, $45)

Recipes, etc. The author owns Bay of Plenty spice and condiments company Pepper and Me; interviewed in Verve, she said: “The first inspiration I had for products actually came from my own breastfeeding journey. The ‘Whatevz mum salt’ is a powerful blend of lactation boosting whole spices and himalayan pink salt sprinkled with citrus and dill, which is a pretty magic milk maker.”

9 A Richer You by Mary Holm (HarperCollins, $36.99)

“Holm has been writing a weekly column offering financial advice in the Weekend Herald since 1998. This book is a selection of 184 of her interchanges. Essentially she is an agony aunt who discusses financial issues rather than relationship ones. Not that, as some of the book’s letters show, they can always be separated. A good agony aunt usually provides prudent, informed, commonsense, not without humour and with a compassion for those at the other end of the interchange. Holm passes this test well”: from a review by Brian Easton at good old ReadingRoom.

10 Climate Aotearoa edited by Helen Clark (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Climate change yabber from Rob Bell, Jason Boberg, Adelia Hallett, Sophie Handford, Rhys Jones, Haylee Koroi, Matt McGlone, Jamie Morton, Rod Oram, Jim Salinger, Kera Sherwood-O’Regan, Simon Thrush and Andrew Jeffs.

Steve Braunias is the literary editor of Newsroom's books section ReadingRoom, a noted writer at the NZ Herald, and the author of 10 books.

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