I really really really hope that, in particular, local fans of spy and espionage thrillers are reading Mark Abernethy's terrific series. Firstly because each of the stories is set in our own region, and secondly because Alan McQueen is such a quintessential Aussie bloke hero type.
Of course, just setting books in our region or taking current day events as a basis for your books doesn't qualify them as must reads. What does that for DOUBLE BACK and the earlier books in the series is that they are extremely good layered high-action thrillers.
Part of the attraction of the books is Alan 'Mac' McQueen who is just about bullet-proof, but with a heart and human foibles. He's the sort of bloke that would appeal to men and women equally - fearless but not stupid about it, caring but not woosy about it, loyal but not in the face of upper echelon idiocy, Mac is an extremely good central character to weave the plots around. What also works is the settings and timeframes into which Abernethy drops MacQueen. In the case of DOUBLE BACK we are deep into the time leading up to the Indonesians being forced out of Timor. What's particularly scary is that you really have to hope that the scenario the author builds is purely fictional as it's chillingly realistic and frighteningly brutal.
But this is a military style thriller, so there is a lot of rushing about, a commensurate amount of sneaking about, and a lot of shooting and shouting. There are some great bit players in the cast - and there's some very realistic and quite funny dialogue amongst them all. Because this is such a good thriller there is also quite a good sense of place - the jungles of East Timor are dark, dangerous and damp. The towns and cities littered with sinister types with an oversupply of sunglasses.
DOUBLE BACK really is a terrific thriller - fast paced, with a good and very realistic plot. The sense of menace is particularly poignant knowing the history of the East Timorese struggle against the Indonesian army, and the scenario that Abernethy builds into the plot is particularly chilling. Having only recently gotten hold of DOUBLE BACK I was particularly pleased to see that the next book in the series COUNTER ATTACK was released in January 2010. Excellent!