Book reviews: March 2021

By: Steve Atkinson

The latest on our bookshelves!

The Last Days of John Lennon
James Patterson
Penguin Random House


Anyone familiar with the assassination of John Lennon will wonder what motivated Mark Chapman to put those slugs in the back of a musical icon all those years ago? Fiction writer James Patterson along with a couple of helpers has put together a plausible telling of the events leading up to Lennon’s death. The story starts right back with the formation of The Beatles and is cleverly paralleled with a ‘current’ Mark Chapman timeline. Like almost all of Patterson’s novels, we know what happens at the end, but the see-sawing between the two timelines which eventually converge are full of intrigue and it’s all told so, so well.

The Nine Lives of Kitty K
Margaret Mills
Mary Egan Publishing


This fact-based fictional account follows the life of Kitty Kirk (1855–1930), who lived an unconventional lifestyle in Otago, particularly around the Queenstown region. The daughter of an Irish lass who was shipped out to New Zealand, the book follows Kitty as she grows to maturity, through to marriage, family tragedy, all the way through to her eventual demise.

The writing itself took some getting used to as the character development was quite sterile and the build-up to significant events was not told as well as it could have been. Having said that, it must be recognised that the author is not a professional storyteller and her long labour of love now gives a voice to a special person. Although it may take some effort to reach the end, Kitty K is a person worth knowing and understanding.

A Bright Ray of Darkness
Ethan Hawke
Penguin Random House


There are many people who would agree Ethan Hawke is the real deal when it comes to the big screen. What many may not know is that he’s also a talented writer, having turned out this his fourth book. Focussed on a well-known actor who has been caught out cheating on his rock star (she actually is a rock star) wife, his marriage implodes at the same time he is about to make his debut in a Broadway play. Actually, it isn’t a bad tale and I’m sure Ethan channelled his previous experiences on stage and screen. It’s readable and all quite believable.

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