An author-on-author scrap has broken out over the Marlborough Sounds murders with Ian Wishart's new book being pulled from bookshelves under threat of legal action.
Author Keith Hunter, who has also written on the case, told Whitcoulls he would sue Wishart and anyone connected to selling Elementary if it contained criticisms of his professional conduct.
Hunter produced the documentary Murder on the Blade? in 2003 and then published Trial By Trickery in 2007.
He said he had heard Wishart made claims this morning that the book was critical about Hunter's research on the case.
"I told Whitcoulls that if that is true that he did say that in the book that I would sue him and anyone else who helps him distribute his book. If he has defamed me -- lowered my reputation -- I will undoubtedly sue him."
Hunter was in the process of reading Elementary when called by the Herald, having bought a copy at a Ponsonby bookshop chain which was among those he had contacted this morning. He said the other chain should also pull the book from shelves. As for Whitcoulls, he said: "Good on them."
And while only on page 35, he said he had read nothing which impacted on his research into the murders.
Wishart said he had been told Whitcoulls had received a complaint from Hunter about the book. "It appears to be an attempt by Keith Hunter to gag the book."
He threatened his own court action. "Ian Wishart is now considering legal action against Mr Hunter for slander of goods. It will be extraordinarily costly to Mr Hunter for putting a spanner in the works of a major book he hasn't even read."
Whitcoulls pulled the book from sale this afternoon, although it has yet to make a statement. The Herald has placed calls with Whitcoulls head office but has yet to hear back.
A staff member at an inner city store said the book had sold out but then checked to see what other stores had available.
He then said: "They've been pulled off the shelves for some reason. They won't be able to sell you one."
A second Whitcoulls store said there had been an email from head office about 3.40pm saying the book had to be pulled from sale.