Duncan Sarkies (John Murray)

Don’t let the simple narrative style fool you. Two Little Boys may, on page one at least, appear to be written for teens – the sentences are short, the language isn’t too complex and the characters seem to be anything but complicated.

Read on, though, and this gem of a novel by Duncan Sarkies – one of New Zealand’s most eclectic writing talents – unfolds into a well thought-out, challenging and hilariously dark read, as old friends Nige and Deano put their relationship to the test.

After Nige accidentally runs down a Norwegian backpacker, he turns to Deano to help him out of a bad situation. The thing is, Deano is delusional and dangerously unstable, which means the bad situation gets worse – and funnier.

Sarkies’ twin protagonists are a hoot, but they also reveal more than a little bit about growing up in New Zealand, as well as the call of a mythical place on the other side of the world called Shepherd’s Bush, where, Nige says, there are a lot of Kiwis drinking beer.