Stonedogs by Craig Marriner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Wow, this book is one wild ride!

Normally, this wouldn’t be my sort of read at all! This book is violent – very violent – & there is frequent use of my least favourite word in the English language. This book ended up on one of my to-read lists after reading literary snob Graeme Lay‘s snooty article about the author. (see my review of The Scene of the Crime if you want the link to the article & to read the discussion in my comments section).

This novel was a controversial winner of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards (now known as the Ockham’s) One of the many things I’ve always liked about the NZ Awards is that they are – quirky. Expect the unexpected. The Luminaries didn’t win the overall award, the judges often seem to follow their own drum. (although the selection committee can be depressingly predictable)

So the judges went for a raw, fresh talent who spoke Kiwi as she is spoken! Gator & his friends just jumped off the page at me. These blokes aren’t wholly admirable, but they aren’t complete villains either. Marriner has enough writing skills to show that both he & Gator don’t share the misogynist characteristics of many of the denizens of Roto-Vegas.ϟ (Affectionate nickname for tourist town Rotorua – although even now it still has quite a bleak underbelly) Most of the book’s pace was fast & furious, other than an occasional philosophical detour. To be honest, I skimmed most of those. Marriner is a very intelligent man, but I felt these excursions gave the book some pacing problems. For foreign readers & nowadays ( & even some Kiwis) some mentions may have readers scratching their heads – for example Jim Hickey, a TV weatherman of the time.

But if you can get hold of this story of a road-trip through a group of Kiwi dole bludgers lurching into a world of crime, this is well worth reading. Some of the twists and turns really surprised me!

Marriner wrote another book Southern Style in 2006. Rumour has it that a third novel will be coming soon. I hope so. I would love to see what direction his writing has taken in middle age.

ϟ Other cities – if Kiwis can give something a nickname, or better still abbreviate, we will!
Auckland = The Big Smoke (Called The Smoke by Marriner though – probably to distinguish from the many, many other cities that have this nick))
Hamilton = The ‘Tron
Wellington = Wellywood
Dunedin = Dunners
Gisborne = Gizzy
Palmerston North = Palmy or Balmy Palmy
Whangarei = FUNgarei
Thames= The Thames – well when it is just one syllable, of course you have to make the name longer!…

View all my reviews

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