Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

10 November 2010

My Books: The Wastings

This was my first novel. It is set in no specifically named location (but nearly all of its locations are in New Zealand) during the boom years before and after the stockmarket crash in the 1980s, a time of nouveaux riches and great economic and political change.

The villain and main character is Morgan Campbell-Pye. The story begins when the author, a distant cousin and sole beneficiary of Campbell-Pye’s, finds, when putting the deceased’s affairs in order, a computer disk that contains a chilling portrait of Campbell-Pye as a killer whose sense of perfection compelled him to devise a series of perfect murders.

Campbell-Pye's story concerns his desire to belong to the Thursday Club, a group of high-status businessmen who meet socially for lunch on Thursdays. One of its members recruits a group of eight men from the Thursday Club to start a ‘tontine’ in which they each put $30,000 into a communal pot for investing; the tontine is to run for fifteen years, and if anyone dies his share is left in the portfolio.

When Philip Lawson, one of the tontine members, commits suicide, Campbell-Pye fantasizes about the possibility of the other members dying, leaving him sole beneficiary of the fund. It occurs to him that he could achieve this by murdering the others - believing that the prospect of pecuniary advantage appeals to him less than the intellectual challenge of devising undetectable murders.

With time on his side - the tontine has another twelve years to run before it matures - Campbell-Pye kills the other members of the tontine one by one, planning the murders in such a way that they cannot be traced back to him.

The Wastings is a study of a man who is obsessive and deluded.


Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse stories wrote this letter to me after having read 'The Wastings':

'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 & a beautifully written work. You've made a splendid debut in crime fiction. More please!

'Good luck with your opus secundum.

'Colin Dexter'

This book is still available through Amazon, ABEBooks and second hand booksellers. I also have a few copies left.




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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.