The Sound of Her Voice, great New Zealand noir


There are a lot of very good New Zealand writers around, particularly in crime fiction, and Nathan Blackwell is one of the newest kids on the block. The Sound of her Voice, published in paperback by Orion this month, is a very good, albeit dark read. No surprises then that it was shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh best crime novel in 2018. Aah, Ngaio Marsh …

Blackwell’s protagonist Matt Buchanan is pretty jaded by life. As a detective working in the Orewa District of New Zealand, he’s seen the worst of the worst, including the rapes and murders of teenage girls. Matt’s a widower with a daughter of his own and these cases hit hard. The disappearance of 14-year-old Samantha Coates years before is among the crimes that haunt him. When a body of a woman is found, Matt sees links to Samantha’s disappearance. He’s determined to do right by the victims, no matter what the personal cost.

This is a gritty read, certainly not one for those faint of heart. Blackwell, the pseudonym of a New Zealand policeman, writes with a bleak authenticity that can only come from personal experience. The crimes he recounts are savage, the system within which he works flawed, yet the detail is extraordinary and the plot compelling enough to make us to read on, even when we don’t particularly want to. It’s not a comfortable read by any means, but my God, it’s good.

Intense, brutal, fast paced, The Sound of her Voice is highly recommended.

Nathan Blackwell | The Sound of her Voice | Orion | paperback original £14.99 | 28 November 2019 |

ebook £4.99 |

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Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the virtual book tour. Many thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers and to the publisher for sending a review copy and jacket image. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other reviews on this tour.

See also: Jason Arnopp’s creepily entertaining Ghoster‘; Carver’s Nothing Important Happened Today’; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;Permission by Saskia Vogel‘; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select Q&As/interviews: Amanda Saint‘;‘Ausma Zehanat Khan’; Mary Balogh‘; ‘Louise Voss’; ‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir’; ’Tom Cox’; ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Gunnar Staalesen’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist


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