After a stint with the NZ Police, Austin turned his hand to writing and is now the author of three novels, including The Ideas Man (2011), with more in the works. Austin’s Dan Calder series of crime novels began with The Agency (self-published in 2016), which made several appearances in the bestseller lists and received glowing reviews from critics. Austin has just published his second Dan Calder novel The Second Grave, with the third and final instalment in the trilogy Frozen Summer scheduled for publication in 2019.
Living on a lifestyle block in Franklin with his artist partner Sallie Clough, Austin is a keen marathon runner who draws on his real-life experiences in the police to write his crime novels. They say that truth is stranger than fiction and that can certainly be said of Austin’s career. Inspired by his dangerous, sometimes bizarre experiences working as an undercover detective in the UK – Austin once disguised himself as a deaf priest in a pub – he reimagines his professional career in the fictional character of the talented, but fractured Dan Calder. Although claiming not to be his fictional anti-hero, Austin does use his experiences in a very personal way and finds writing cathartic.
Although never having had any formal training in creative writing, Austin honed his skills writing police reports and statements, and is a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels. Austin engages his audience in much the same way as Doyle – through the five senses. Austin’s talent has been recognised by esteemed editor Stephen Stratford, who also works with bestselling author Ian Rankin.
The Second Grave was inspired by Confucius quotation ‘When you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves’ and Austin’s musing about the lengths you will go to for the people you care about, and what you’re prepared to do to those who might seek to harm them. These are the central themes in his latest Dan Calder novel.
The Second Grave opens with Dan back home in New Zealand, looking to the future with optimism. That all changes when he receives a call out of the blue from his best friend and ex-partner, Nick Hetherington. Suddenly, Dan is propelled into yet another dangerous scenario; one that necessitates him returning to his old patch. A prostitute is dead; Nick’s daughter Amber is the only suspect. Dan’s own brand of investigation is required to unravel the mess where, unbelievably, the police now seem to be the enemy. Left at home, Dan’s girlfriend Tara senses that he will seize the opportunity to settle some unforgotten scores. As old friends and enemies reappear, Dan’s darkest moment reappears, and he faces the battle of his life to fulfil his promise to Nick. Standing in his way are corrupt police and local gangster Teddy Parker who will do anything to destroy Calder and prevent the truth from emerging. The odds are stacked against Calder, who again, is in serious trouble.
Extract from The Second Grave
Dan swung the car around the corner oblivious to other
traffic; fortunately there was mercifully little.
“I noticed he was calling me son. It was one of those things
and I knew it was affection not condescension. The phone call,
it was him, he said ‘help me, son’. I know it was him.”
“But when and why was he calling you son?”
“The other day, I don’t know, a few days ago, when we got
Even though they were both sat in the car, they both sounded
out of breath.
“How long until we hit the motorway?” Dan asked, sounding
the horn while completing a dangerous overtake of a doubledecker
“A mile, ten minutes to junction twenty-three and then maybe
another ten to twelve minutes to get to Allen’s at this speed.”
The offended bus driver hit his main beam, causing the light
to bounce off the rear-view mirror and into Dan’s eyes.
“Shit!” He knocked it aside with his left hand.
Nick laughed nervously. “It’s not as if you need it tonight
They sped on through the city outskirts until the big
roundabout forming the motorway junction came into view.
There was a small queue of cars waiting at a red light to join the
slip road southbound but Dan was in no mood to wait. With
one hand on the wheel and the other pressing down hard on
the horn, he mounted the kerb on the nearside of the queue
and drove through knee-high grass regardless of any hidden
obstruction. It was only by sheer luck that he missed a steel post
set in concrete as he bounced back onto the tarmac again at the
front of the queue. As he tried his best to push the accelerator
pedal through the floor, the car gained momentum down the
slip road. With no rear-view mirror to assist he took a brief
glance in the door mirror as he entered the motorway proper at
ninety mph. Flashing lights and horns from other vehicles met
their arrival but Dan ignored them as he bullied his way across
three lanes into the fast lane and hurtled onwards.
The Second Grave by Ian Austin
Paperback, RRP: $23.99
Available to buy online at www.fishpond.co.nz