Nigel Coxs fifth novel was the best of a group of novels dealing with New Zealanders in Europe. It creates a wonderful sense of place (Berlin) and has a strong narrative coherence and drive, expressed in the fully-captured voice of a first-person narrator, one of a gallery of convincing narrators created in Coxs recent fiction. The narrator, Martin Rumsfield, likes to play with noir motifs and turns of phrase with a touch of postmodern pastiche, but as the title indicates, the drama in which he is involved ultimately deals with a responsibility that he doesnt want to face and is forced to confront. The novel joins Owen Marshalls Harlequin Rex as one of the finest New Zealand explorations of the after-effects of the culture of the 60s and 70s. From the judges' report
From the acclaimed author of Tarzan Presley, a new novel about the things that really matter.
Responsibility is a darkly comic thriller set in contemporary Berlin. Martin Rumsfield, an international museums expert from New Zealand, is feeling hemmed in by the pressures of work and the demands of family. When a shady character from his past turns up with a sure-fire plan to scam the scammers, Martin is seduced by the glamour of a walk on the wild side. Then, in a shattering moment, he realises that he has put what he values most at deadly risk.
Responsibility is written with delicious ironic awareness of the hardboiled detective fiction clichés which lie behind every twist and turn. But a darker undercurrent of moral consequence is never far from the surface, and it is this that finally returns Martin from self-indulgent fantasy to a deep appreciation that in steady embrace of his responsibilities lies the promise of a richer, truer life.
Praise for Responsibility:
NAMED ONE OF THE NZ HERALD'S "BOOKS OF THE YEAR"
Museum expert Martin Rumsfield longs for adventure and finds some in Berlin. Cox has great fun playing with what he calls hardboiled detective fiction cliches, toying with plots and locations and the result, we think, is one of the more enjoyable New Zealand books of the year. Linda Herrick
Nigel Cox's new novel is the strangest, cleverest thing I've read since
since Nigel Cox's last novel, actually.
David Larsen LISTENER
Responsibility is Nigel Cox's take on [a] familiar tale. As page-turning storytelling, it is quite simply, a beaut, with a neat plot-switch when you think you've got the hang of it, and a long and convincing suspense climax.
Nicholas Reid DOMINION POST
Cox perfectly mugs the hardboiled, laconic stereotypes of detective fiction, but also treats us to delightful meditations on, for instance, backs ("I think the part played by the back in marriage is underestimated") or the days of the week ("no matter what you do to your head, Monday morning keeps arriving"). Genuinely dark, very cool.
Margie Thomson HERALD ON SUNDAY
Responsibility is a smart balance of humour, pathos and action.
Sean Monaghan THE PRESS
Woven into this fine underlay is a follow-the-money plot which, although silly, races along, frequently devolving into farce and serving up a kicker of an ending. In the process Responsibility becomes a sort of smartarse morality tale. A remarkable mix.
Chris Barton NZ HERALD
A smart and engaging novel from one of New Zealand's foremost contemporary writers.
Holly Walker CRITIC
Praise for Tarzan Presley:
Nigel Cox's fourth novel has me jumping up and down excitedly because I can't believe how good it is. To take such an unlikely attention-getting idea and to develop it into such an intelligent book it's like seeing someone suddenly make a successful film of Lord of the Rings in Miramar. . . . This whole book rings true. It's superbly written and utterly original. David Larsen, NZ HERALD