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The Call By Gavin Stawhan


A broken cop, a terrified informant and a gang that wants revenge! Winner of the 2023 Allen & Unwin Fiction Prize, this captivating debut crime novel delves into the world of a 501 deportee gang in a secluded coastal town in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Following a harrowing assault, DS Honey Chalmers, a former Auckland cop, returns to her hometown to care for her mother, Rachel. A formidable character, Honey’s relationship with her mother is complicated. Memories of her past, including the tragic loss of her sister Scarlett to suicide haunt her in the remote settlement of Waitutū.


Honey is also worried that her informant, mother of three Kloe Kovich, may have paid the price for getting too close to her. When gang enforcers arrive in Waitutū, hoping she will lead them to Kloe, she realises she must be alive. But can Honey save her this time?


With its gripping narrative, humour and unforgettable conclusion, The Call introduces readers to a chilling underworld and a formidable new voice in crime fiction. If you enjoyed Jared Savage’s true crime Gangland and Gangster’s Paradise, you’ll find The Call very satisfying!


“The idea for The Call started some years ago when I interviewed a police detective for a TV series. She mentioned that she kept getting late-night calls from the girlfriend of a gang member. It was usually after a fight, and the girlfriend would give tip-offs to get back at her abusive partner. This cop was funny and smart and talked tough, but you could tell she had a good heart. I didn’t end up using the idea back then, but I stored it away…” says Gavin.


This was the beginning of The Call and the characters that became Honey and Kloe, he explains. 


Author Gavin Strawhan is an award-winning scriptwriter and prolific creator, writer, and showrunner, having worked on numerous television shows in New Zealand and internationally. View notes for reading groups here.


Reviewer: Andrea Molloy

Allen & Unwin

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