A Chinese market gardener was shot in the head four times when he opened the door of his Wanganui whare at 6 o'clock one evening in 1922.
Police investigated the murder of Chow Yat, but no one was ever convicted. It became the starting point for a novel by writer Joan Rosier-Jones.
"It's an unsolved mystery, except that I have sort of come up with a possible suspect. I've done some detective work," she said.
She soon found the facts of the case were well documented and stranger than fiction. She decided to write a true murder story instead.
The Murder of Chow Yat is about to be published by Wanganui's Stead & Daughters Ltd, with 2000 copies as the preliminary print run. Ms Rosier-Jones said it would be launched at her former Takapuna stamping ground next week and also in Wanganui on Friday.
The 1922 murder had a long life in the minds of Wanganui people. To add to the mystery, Chow Yat's body was found some distance from where he was shot.
The market gardener was "a lovely old man" with no known enemies. His garden was at the corner of Kaimatira and Longacre roads – one of Kwong Chong For's many pieces of market garden scattered around the district.
Prejudice against Chinese was strong at the time, and police were inclined to dismiss the crime as against "just another Chinaman". They were gingered up by the then police commissioner, who was spurred on by the Chinese consul.
They fixed their inquiries on a man seen walking along No 3 Line that fateful afternoon. Part of their case revolved around how fast the distance could be covered on foot.
Rosier-Jones obtained the police file from national archives. It recorded exactly what was said in interviews and even what gestures were made. The newspapers of the day gave detailed accounts and Charles E. Spicer's book about Central District policing helped flesh out the characters of the constables.
The Murder of Chow Yat is Rosier-Jones' first work of non-fiction, apart from her two books about how to write. She's also the author of five novels, Yes and her first, Cast Two Shadows, which was published in the mid 1980s.
She moved to Wanganui in 2004 and travels to teach writing. She's also busy organising the Wanganui Literary Festival.