Lindy Cameron






Mira Books
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

This is a troubled world. These days there is a sense of inevitability about terrorist activity.

During a siege on a Pacific island tourists are taken hostage by a group demanding free and fair elections. As there are Australian hostages, the Redbacks, a privately funded retrieval team led by Bryn Gideon, are sent in secretly to rescue them. But they're not the only ones sneaking about in the dark. The Americans are here, uninvited, in force with lots of big guns and even bigger bangs. It all goes horribly pear-shaped for the Americans, but they do provide a degree of cover for the Redbacks making their job marginally easier. But what are the Americans doing there in the first place?

A bomb blast in Pakistan isnít all that unusual so the outside world takes little notice, except for two Australian Special Operations soldiers and one lone CIA agent. And how about the bombing of a multi-story car park in Dallas, Texas, and the blowing up of a passenger train in Luxembourg, unfortunately containing relatives of a senior member of the United States government?

Meanwhile in Australia, the SETSA conference, involving major Asia-Pacific leaders, is going to be one of the jewels in the crown of the Prime Minister, who is pleased that the US Vice-President is coming as a guest observer. The PM is on Bondi beach with one of his senior cabinet ministers when shots are fired. The PM is wounded in the leg and his colleague is dead. This is Australiaís first political assassination. But whatís the motive?

After this assassination, Bryn and her team are asked to provide extra security cover for the SETSA conference. They quickly discover thereís a lot more going on than appears on the surface. Exactly what, is going to take all their considerable talent and wit to find out.

REDBACK is being called a thriller and while there is action, there is a also great deal of plot. It is rich in characters. Each scenario has its own set of characters. They are more than just one dimensional cardboard cut outs. Having so many different characters in various parts of the world can be a little confusing at times and it can be difficult to keep straight just who belongs where. Some of the sub-plots work much better than others. I particularly enjoyed the Special Forces men in Pakistan: Mudge and Spud and their CIA colleague, an eager-beaver new boy they christen Bam-Bam, and the entertaining dialogue between them.

Many of the politicians and events in the book are recognisable as real people: the American president who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer; a Machiavellian Australian Prime Minister who is almost universally disliked by his colleagues; the strong-minded female New Zealand Prime Minister; and the SETSA Conference with a barbecue at Kirribilli House* for the world leaders closing down half of Sydneyís streets.

By and large Cameron manages this large cast of characters very well and has structured the book in such a way that there are a number of mini-cliff hangers within the book. Just as you get to a really interesting bit, it switches to another sub-plot. Itís a sure fire way of keeping the reader turning the pages. That is another thing she does very well. Many thrillers require the reader to suspend disbelief to an extent. Cameron largely manages to avoid this. Iím the first to admit that thrillers arenít my first choice for reading, so Iím often a harsh critic when it comes to this genre. With the exception of the ending which I felt strained credibility just a little too much for me, the book hangs together well and dedicated thriller readers will find little to quibble about with REDBACK.

Aug 2008

* Kirribilli House is one of two official residences for Australiaís Prime Ministers. Kirribilli House is situated on the north shore of Sydney Harbour near the Harbour Bridge and looks across the Harbour into the city and the Opera House.


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