Reviews of The Heat, Miss Dust, After the Flood and Newt's Emerald

The Heat by Garry Disher.

The Heat by Garry Disher.

CRIME

The Heat

Garry Disher

Miss Dust by Johanna Aitchison.

Miss Dust by Johanna Aitchison.

Text Publishing, $30

Wyatt is back and is welcome.  He is as fine an example of anti-hero as one could wish; tall, lean, spare, of few words and fewer expressions, but with a good understanding of what makes people tick. In The Heat he is short of ready money and agrees to steal a painting from one of the grand semi-mansions on the outskirts of fashion-parade Noosa on Australia's Sunshine Coast.  The woman who wants the painting (an early Dutch work) represents the present generation of the family from whom it was stolen for Hitler's collection.  Wyatt was put onto the job by Minto, a Melbourne criminal entrepreneur.  Wyatt, careful as ever, fights his way through double-cross within double-cross within double-cross and eventually comes out with some money to keep him going for a while.  He manages to avoid being shot, although others don't, and he also manages a bit of emotionally unencumbered sex along the way.  Garry Disher deserves his reputation as one of Australia's finest crime writers, his writing style being similar to Wyatt's character. KEN STRONGMAN

POETRY 

After The Flood: What the Dambusters did next by John Nichol.

After The Flood: What the Dambusters did next by John Nichol.

Miss Dust

Johanna Aitchison

Seraph Press, $25

Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix.

Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix.

Winner of the prestigious New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition and shortlisted 2008 New Zealand Book Awards, poet Johanna Aitchison has already accrued an impressive list of literary achievements. Miss Dust, Aitchison's third poetry collection, adds to her accomplishments. It's a book in two parts. The first focuses upon the titular heroine, Miss Dust and her navigation through everything from online dating, coffee consumption motherhood and a teaching career. The female-focused themes which result, including autonomy, nurture versus nature and religion, extend into the book's second half.  Here, for instance, standout poems like the prize-winning, Jun see a New Zealand tutor reflect upon her Japanese students, and the concluding piece, Full bloom discuss the exacting nature of creativity. The outcome is a powerful poetry collection which, while meditating upon identity and belonging, assimilation and extrication, embraces the personal experience as a means to speak about the public and political. SIOBHAN HARVEY

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MILITARY HISTORY

After The Flood: What the Dambusters did next

John Nichol

William Collins, $35

These days it would be called public relations spin, but during World War II morale and propaganda were keywords and seen as weapons of war for which men died. And die the pilots and crew of the Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron did, in appalling numbers--more than three-quarters of the original 133 Dambusters didn't survive the war. They were drawn from among the best and brightest of the British airforce, but that didn't save them for so many of their low-flying special-target missions verged on the suicidal. This book tells their story, while at the same time posing the ultimate question: Did what they did shorten the war--or were they needlessly sacrificed in the name of  Allied propaganda?  It's an argument that still swirls around Bomber Command as a whole-- for after  German U-boat crews and Russian tankers, Allied bomber crews suffered the third-highest  number of casualties in the war. ALISTER BROWNE

YOUNG ADULT

Newt's Emerald

Garth Nix

Allen & Unwin, $22

Newt's Emerald is a Georgette Heyer type Regency romance with a bit of mystery, magic and a female character with a lot of ooomph! Lady Truthful Newington is a beautiful redhead who has had a rough-and-tumble childhood and is due to "come out" after a season in London. On her 18th birthday she is to inherit the Newington Emerald which possesses magical powers but which is stolen after a conjured storm. Disguised as a man, Lady Truthful searches the shifty side of London for the emerald and meets Major Harnett. They discover the emerald has fallen into the hands of powerful sorceress  Lady Plathenden. She imprisons them tied back to back in a brandy barrel intending to throw them into the sea. They escape but both are moved by the experience. A ripping magical yarn superbly written by Garth Nix who captures the essence of Regency manners while narrating a magical adventure.  BOB DOCHERTY

 - Stuff

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