Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

18 September 2009

Second Bite: A Crime Novel

After my first novel The Wastings was published I received this letter from ‘Inspector Morse’ author Colin Dexter:
456 Banbury Road, Oxford
Dear Don,
A very brief line to say how much (yes!) I enjoyed and admired The Wastings. So did my wife. So did my daughter.
A lovely idea and beautifully written work. You’ve made a splendid debut in crime fiction. More please!
Good luck with your opus secundum.
Colin Dexter’

I subsequently published my second work of fiction, my ‘opus secundum’, which, coincidentally, is titled Second Bite. It’s the kind of sex and violence stuff that you’d pick up at the airport and leave on the plane after a long flight. I’m not sure that I would have wanted my mother to read it! It is available as an e-book from Amazon.com for $US 9.99.

Based on a true crime that has never been solved, ‘Second Bite’ explores the warped sexual fantasies of the prime suspect and the extreme stresses on the murder team which nearly result in the death of leader DCI Paul Perry; the early use of DNA profiling; police entrapment; romance and a continuous search through a labyrinth of luck and dogged detection that takes us from England to Australia to New Zealand to arrive at a shocking and violent conclusion.

Here are the opening paragraphs:
Part One
It begins on Monday 11 November 1985
He came at her suddenly from the bushes, moaning and blathering, eyes wild and staring, their irises isolated in whiteness like a terrified horse. He grabbed at her coat with a filthy, blood-stained hand, plucking at her sleeve with long, thin fingers. His clothing, a light, cream, woollen track suit mired in mud, clay, grass streaks and monstrous gobs of blood was in disarray, flecked with small leaves and grass and torn in small nicks as if it had been caught momentarily on barbed wire or thorns.

Shocked and apprehensive she sought to pull away, staggering backwards and almost losing her balance as her dog, a whimpering spaniel, circled, loosely winding its lead around her ankles.
The man tottered away, shuffling sideways across the gravel path; as he did so he pointed towards the light screen of bushes and he croaked, in a half demented voice, ‘In there, in there, I slipped, an accident, I didn’t mean… oh she’s so disgusting…’

Maureen Caswell, still stunned by this shattering turn of events on what, just moments before, had been a leisurely late afternoon stroll on Thames Glebe with Charlie, her spaniel, watched the man as he stumbled down the green bank towards the river where, crossing a low-tide beach of mud and shingle he immersed himself fully, to reappear with a howl of despair while spastically dousing his head with handfuls of river water and scraping at his clothing, face and hair to rid himself as quickly as possible of the awful mess that mottled his body.

The dog had freed Maureen and now sat beside her, whining softly, as she took stock, the automatic disciplines of analysis and preparation for action already working in her mind. Maureen was no ordinary middle-aged, city-dwelling, office-working woman; she was a nursing sister of many years experience in the big London hospitals, accustomed to making triage decisions in response to the butchery of accident and emergency. She’d seen it all: faces in shreds from drunken attacks with broken bottles at closing time; fractured bones of car collisions poking raggedly through skin; eyes gouged, ears ripped, knife wounds … no, it was not what she’d just seen that stopped Maureen Caswell in her tracks, it was the suddenness of an event completely out of context.

Now he had moved from the water and sat on the Thames bank, his head in his hands, swaying backwards and forwards like a lonely child and spasmodically shivering in the cool breeze of late autumn - she suspected it was more from trauma than from cold despite his sodden track suit which clung heavily to his humped shouders. She half moved towards him but stopped, reflecting.

‘She’s so disgusting…’ he’d raved.

She turned away and stepping off the path, gingerly pushed her way through the shrubbery to the grassy bank which lay away from the river and ran quite steeply for a few metres until it met a dense screen of thorn bushes and mature trees beyond which a natural darkness was already deepening as early evening advanced.
Something gleamed whitely at the base of the bushes. [End of extract]

If you would like to purchase a hard copy of Second Bite please contact me at donovan@ihug.co.nz



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By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.