Book Chooks

They're faster than a speeding bookmark, more powerful than the glue on the pricetag on the cover of your favourite book and able to leap tall paperbacks in a single bound ... and they read. A lot. Jillian Allison-Aitken and Nadine Hancock are the Book Chooks.

Gangland killings a shock

10:00am 14 Jul 2014

REVIEWED BY MARK HOTTON

BOOK REVIEW: The Bassett Road Machine-Gun Murders
By Scott Bainbridge ($37 Allen & Unwin)

This book was published to mark the 50th anniversary of a shocking crime that drew a line in New Zealand's criminal history and heralded a more sinister era.

Set against a backdrop of six o'clock closings, a Chicago-style underworld, bent cops, prostitution and the lure of a quick buck or two, the book helpfully provides a brief history of the sly-grog dens in Auckland, which helps create an interesting backdrop to the environment in which the murders took place.

It's a tale of old New Zealand, of seedy bars, safecrackers and honour among criminals.

The murders, by machine- gun execution, of two members of the underworld shocked the nation and the two men convicted, Ron Jorgensen and John Gillies, became household names.

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True story is gripping reading

02:00pm 11 Jul 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: Hanns and Rudolf
By Thomas Harding (Random House, RRP $38)

Subtitled "the extraordinary true story of the Jewish investigator who pursued and captured one of Nazi Germany's most notorious war criminals", Hanns and Rudolf shows that a true story can be every bit as exciting as any work of fiction a Hollywood scriptwriter could come up with.

Hanns Alexander, the son of a wealthy German family, fled Berlin in the 1930s and made his way to London.

Rudolf Hoss was a farmer and soldier who moved through the ranks to become the commandant of the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp, where millions of men, women and children were brutally murdered during World War II.

After the war, the first British war crimes investigation team begins to hunt down the high- ranking Nazis responsible for the greatest atrocities the world had ever seen: Lieutenant Hanns Alexander is one of the lead investigators, Rudolf Hoss one of his most elusive targets.

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From our reviewers: General fiction

10:00am 11 Jul 2014

Birthright
T K Roxborogh (Penguin, RRP $35)

Reviewed by F Mulligan

Birthright is the third book in the Banquo's Son trilogy.

Fleance, the son in question, is now king of Scotland.

He is married and his wife, Rachael, is pregnant with an heir. All should be well, with his claim to rule seemingly secure. Alas, he of course, is in for stormy weather.

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Great read captures Kiwi experience

10:00am 10 Jul 2014

REVIEWED BY JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

Flying Kiwis: A History of the OE
By Jude Wilson (Otago University Press, RRP $45)

Going on the big OE is something of a rite of passage for many young Kiwis, so it should come as no surprise that there is now a book looking at the history of this trend.

This is the first detailed account of the uniquely Kiwi phenomenon: the extended overseas working holiday also known as the "overseas experience", or OE.

Our little country is so far away from the bright lights of the European/American big smokes that a 10-day package holiday just doesn't cut it, so, as the cost of long-haul flights have reduced, an increasing number of young New Zealanders have headed overseas for their big adventure.

As Kiwis headed for London during the 1980s, newspapers and magazines aimed at the expats became more common and parts of the city - such as Earls Court - became known as Kiwi zones, where New Zealanders could hang out together, reminisce about home and compare notes.

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From our reviewers: NZ non-fiction

03:00pm 09 Jul 2014

Ulva Island: A Visitor's Guide
By Ulva Goodwillie (Craig Print, RRP $39)

Reviewed by Jillian Allison-Aitken

There's no doubt we live in a beautiful part of the world, but even a born-and-bred Southlander like me can be taken aback at times by just how beautiful it is.

Drive for 20 minutes or so in any direction and you'll find yourself admiring anything from a rural landscape to a rugged cliff. However, if you go a little further off the beaten track, you'll be rewarded with some truly remarkable hidden treasures. And one of the finest is surely Ulva Island.

Tucked away inside Paterson Inlet, on Stewart Island, it is believed that Ulva was named by the early Scottish settlers after their namesake Isla of Ulva, in the Inner Hebrides.

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