Margot Scott is a psychologist dealing daily with troubled people, she is meticulous in her professional life, has records going back to the beginning of her practice. She is respected and on the lecture circuit. She is comfortable in her marriage to Gabe, and they have two healthy children, July and Evan. Then an old university colleague refers a new patient to her, Cormac, and her near-perfect life starts to go seriously off course.
It is Florence, 1536. Cesare Aldo is an officer of the Otto, a criminal court with its own investigators. Aldo has secrets, and Florence runs on the trading of secrets. Aldo ends up investigating the murder of a moneylender Samuele Levi, who he had recently protected as he travelled from Bologna back to Florence. Aldo only trusts one other Otto investigator, young Corporal Strocchi. Strocchi is investigating the horrendous death of the latest courtesan to show themselves off at Sunday Mass, but he discovers this courtesan is a young man, and that not many care about the death of a homosexual.
A group of New Zealand soldiers during the Second World War, we follow them from England to their deployment in Crete - in boredom, in terror, in transit, in confusion. Before leaving England, one of lower-rank, Cousins, is killed during a training exercise. Was it an accident, a suicide, or murder? A middle-ranked soldier, Breen, becomes determined to discover the answer - but has a crime been committed, or is Breen just trying to make sense of events in a world where “We take decent ordinary fellows and we train them to kill other decent ordinary fellows”? Breen pursues the case while drifting into a relationship with higher-ranked Sinclair.
A return to Gabriel’s Bay, and this time it is not a dog or a moose who welcomes and farewells us, but a cat, Brian. The local politicking around getting the tourist attraction Littleville off the ground is still the centre of concern, along with how to replace the Love Bus, which Mac Reid uses to ferry the elderly to Hampton once a week. But Spellbound is also about male insecurity, aggression, and vulnerability to suggestion, “The sensitive male ego had a lot to answer for”. But luckily Gabriel’s Bay has a formidable band of sisters, and some good blokes who support them, to tackle the growing problem.
Craig Sisterson, founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards, journalist, reviewer, administrator of the Crime Watch blog, organiser of book events and festivals in Aotearoa and elsewhere, tireless supporter and promoter of works of #YeahNoir – has given us a three-for-one in Southern Cross Crime. It is a handy well-informed reference book, a book to dip in and out of to cheer yourself up if you are feeling a bit bored or uninspired, and best of all, it is a luscious read from cover to cover.