From Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab first published in 1886 and Gilbert Rock’s By Passion Driven of 1888 through to the present, New Zealand has had a long tradition of crime writing. This exhibition draws on that tradition, taking you on a journey through time and around the world in the company of some of our finest, and lesser known, crime writers.

Although Hansom Cab was written and set in Melbourne, Hume grew up and was educated in Dunedin having immigrated with his family at the age of three. He went on to become one of the most prolific crime writers of his time. Hume, Rock and other writers of Dunedin or with a strong Dunedin association are exhibited together in the wall carrels.

In ‘Authors in crime’ we showcase a vivid and lurid range of works from old-fashioned ‘penny dreadfuls’ through sophisticated ‘whodunnits’ to modern psychological thrillers.

The ‘Antipodean Queen of Crime’, Dame Ngaio Marsh, features alongside other internationally acclaimed writers. Also included are authors who were once household names but are now largely forgotten. Fans of Marsh will recognise the inspiration for the exhibition title.

We have taken a broad definition of New Zealand authors, to include any writer who was born here as well as those who grew up or spent a substantial period of their life in New Zealand. Settings vary from colonial to present day New Zealand; from rural to urban New Zealand; from the United Kingdom and Europe to the United States.

The exhibition has a strong emphasis on contemporary writers in the hope of drawing more readers into the fascinating world of crime and detective fiction.

We hope you enjoy the exhibition and are inspired to explore the works of some of these writers.

Margie Michael and Lorraine Johnston