Award-winning crime writer Alan Carter releases murder mystery set in Marlborough
A body is found near the shoe fence outside Havelock, dragging a small-town policeman running from his past into a hunt for a serial killer stalking the quiet region of Marlborough.
The murder mystery Marlborough Man is the fourth book by crime writer Alan Carter, drawing on his experiences moving to the Wakamarina Valley two years ago with his wife Kath.
Like Alan, main character Sergeant Nick Chester comes from Sunderland, in England. Unlike him, the reason he moved to Marlborough was because of an undercover job gone wrong.
"His past is going to catch up with him - there are some bad guys on his tail. There's a serial killer out there, and Nick is not only the hunter but the hunted," Alan says.
"In New Zealand he's like me, a fish out of water, a city slicker up a dead end valley wondering how the hell he got there. All that newness to me, I've put into the book."
The book is full of observations about life in the top of the south; Alan talked to police to get their methods right, he consulted a te reo dictionary, and he learnt about wildlife.
For the past 30 years he has worked on documentaries, and while he was writing the book he worked on a project about New Zealand natural history where he found out about eels.
"I've got a scene set in the river at night with longfin eels and a couple of suspected Russian assassins," he says.
There is also a homage to a recurring crime theme in Blenheim: people stuffing meat down their pants in supermarkets. In scope, the novel covers all of the top of the south down to Kaikoura.
Alan is no stranger to small-town life. While he was born in England, he moved to Australia in 1990. His first book Prime Cut was written when he and Kath moved to the isolated town of Hopetoun.
"She said I could be a kept man for a year, she would take care of the bills and stuff, so I could work on this book that was inside me - as long as I did the chores," Alan says.
That book, published in 2011 and part of a series featuring Asian-Australian detective Cato Kwong, won him the prestigious Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction. His books have been translated and published around the world.
"I didn't even think I'd be published, so to be published and winning awards was a dream come true really," he says.
The book launch for Marlborough Man takes place at Volume Books, in Nelson, on May 31.
- The Marlborough Express