Taking new role: Long-time cop Phil Jones


Queenstown Writers Festival organisers have made an arresting choice of MC to interview two top New Zealand crime novelists tomorrow.

They’ve chosen former local-based top cop Phil Jones, no stranger to murder investigations, who’s now living back in the resort.

He’ll interview — or is that interrogate? — ace psychological thriller writer Paddy Richardson and Celtic noir leading light Liam McIlvanney, both of Dunedin, at Sherwood from 2 till 3pm.

Jones, who most latterly was NZ’s police consul in southern China, fighting synthetic drug importing, is currently on pre-retirement leave after 45 years with the force.

He was local-based area commander from ‘97 to 2008, then served stints in Sydney and Wellington before being posted to Guangzhou, in China — which he hurriedly left when Covid struck.

Jones reads a lot of genres but says he’s always had a bent for crime fiction.

‘‘It’s not really like real police work because it’s not meant to be.

‘‘I don’t tend to read those real crime-type [books] but the others are more entertaining, I suppose.’’

He’s found Richardson’s and McIlvanney’s works interesting to read.

He notes the former’s set novels in Alexandra and Wanaka, while the latter’s won a Scottish crime book-of-the-year award named after his dad.

Asked what his retirement plans are, Jones, 63, says he intends taking up fishing and has just bought a motorbike.

‘‘And much to the annoyance of some of my mates I’ve bought an electric
bike for getting out and about on the trails.’’

For the full writers festival programme, running till Sunday, see