Title: The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Author: Joan Stevens

Publication details: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1966

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Sylvia Johnston

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Mystery Novel

Mystery Novel. Arthur Manning, in his first novel We Never Die in the Winter, 1958, made a mystery melodrama out of a quite probable New Zealand incident, the stranding of a busload of people caught between slips on the Kaikoura Coast road. The idea is that the personalities of the little group will clash and develop under strain. Manning is not very serious, of course, but makes something of the resulting tension.

Denis Rhodes in Fly Away Peter, 1952, set out to spin a good yarn in the John Buchan manner, utilising the Canterbury foothills, fire, flood, snowstorm and mountaineering for the machinery of the plot. The basis is secret service intrigue, a crabbed old man's will, two heroes, two heroines, and enough cloak-and-dagger stuff to make a good brew.

Peter Llewellyn, who wrote fiction as Michael Ellis, published two novels, The Score at Teatime, 1958, and The Angel in the Coffin, 1960. The first is a thriller of the Korean War, with New Zealand characters whose idiom and behaviour are very well caught, a British officer who is a Communist and some Rabelaisian scenes in Tokyo. The second is set on board a Dutch emigrant ship en route to New Zealand. In both books, the incidental material is interesting, but the stories are too confused to be impressive.