Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Barrister taps into police past for long-overdue crime thriller

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MAN OF WORDS: Tauranga barrister and prolific author David Bates' latest novel explores his roots having lived through the anti-nuclear movement. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
MAN OF WORDS: Tauranga barrister and prolific author David Bates' latest novel explores his roots having lived through the anti-nuclear movement. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

When Tauranga criminal barrister David Bates is not busy in his day job, he spends hours scribbling his latest creations.

The prolific writer is set to release his latest novel Shafts of Strife - a socio-political crime thriller - in early April which will be available in hard copy and in e-book formats.

Mr Bates, 68, said it was back in 1980/1981 when he wrote a first draft of the novel which had the same working title before he tossed it into a box.

At the time he was working as a legal advisor at national police headquarters in Wellington.

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"That is where the draft stayed until 2011 when I dusted it off and began working on it again."

Mr Bates said after thousands of hours of further writing and "many, many" rewrites, the book has finally been published by Hong-Kong based Custom Book Publications. It has been listed on Amazon and Kindle, and other e-book websites.

The former police inspector, whose career spanned the anti-nuclear movement and Springboks tour in the 1980s, said he had plenty of life experiences to draw on for his latest novel.

That included guarding the then Governor-General, Sir David Beattie, during Prince Charles and Princess Diana's royal tour of New Zealand in 1980. The royals get a mention in this, his latest book.

Shafts of Silence was story of the struggle between democratic power and protest, he said.

The plot centres around fictional autocratic New Zealand Prime Minister Wynyard Nairn who approved the establishment of a United States naval facility in the middle of Wellington's pristine harbour.

Given the country's anti-nuclear stance, all hell breaks out and within days anarchy rules.

Parliament is occupied, the United States Embassy is attacked, two people die, a major television communications tower is destroyed, central Wellington is blockaded and the international airport is closed.

Reaching crisis point, Nairn attacks the police, and threatens to remove their independence, and bring in the army - with a huge constitutional and jurisdictional back story.

Mr Bates said he had always been a "bit of scribbler" but finishing Shafts of Strife took far longer than even he could have imagined it would.

He said the book started off as a germ of an idea in his head 35 years ago.

"I'm so happy and relieved I can now tick it off my bucket list and move on to my next project.

"It's also a bit sad, when you have spent so many hours creating and developing these characters to finally have to let it go, as it was a huge amount of work emotionally and mentally," he said.

Mr Bates said now it was up to the general public whether they wanted to read it.

"Hopefully they do, but even if one person thinks it's a good read I'll be happy."

His first novel Beneath the Cherry Tree was published in 2009, and explored issues of honesty, family responsibilities and same-sex relationships. It was re-released last year by the same publishers as Shafts of Strife.

It is now available in a raft of languages, including Polish, Italian and Russian, he said.

Later this year Mr Bates will release a three-part children's illustrated and rhyming story book.

The three parts are titled Maestro McNibble Most Mischievous Mouse, Rat-a-tat Cat Get's a Friend and Ronnie-da-Rat and Mouse and a Cat - stories with loads of mischief.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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