Book reviews: December 2021

The Deals on Wheels team reviews the latest titles to hit NZ bookshelves

Mark Van Leewarden
Quentin Wilson Publishing
Reviewed by Steve Atkinson


We take a true-life step back to the 1970s as a cop takes us on his year-long undercover mission to take down the bad guys of Auckland’s drug and stolen trinkets trade. Actually, I may be talking this down a bit, as it’s a nostalgic ride for those with long enough memories and a fairly decent read up to this point.

The downhill part happens about three-quarters of the way through after our intrepid cop parts way with his employers and goes into business as a private investigator, complete with naff code names and all. He should have stuck with the undercover story to prevent the slide to the bottom.

Red Traitor
Owen Matthews
Penguin Random House
Reviewed by Steve Atkinson


The work of fiction is based around the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and primarily follows the viewpoint of the Russians as an official uncovers corruption that could lead to the detonation of nuclear warheads from four submarines in waters near Cuba. The storyline plods along and at times painfully so, but it oh so cleverly wraps you up into a tense ending that has you on edge, until you realise it’s based on a true story. Well played.

Power Play: Elon Musk, Tesla, and the Bet of the Century
Tim Higgins
Reviewed by Steve Atkinson


Love him or hate him, there’s really no denying that if any privately run operation is going to put someone on Mars, then Elon Musk will be the person behind it, and if you don’t believe me, then read this book.

While it focusses on Tesla and Elon’s bloody-mindedness to build the business virtually from scratch, it also gives some insights on how he thinks and his drive to make people achieve things they thought impossible.

Of course, there’s carnage along the way, and you can’t help but feel for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t allow themselves to deal with that level of stress, but I guess not all of us can or want to play with the big boys.

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