I've enjoyed the Lachlan Fox series, but I will admit to having read them way out of order. That doesn't seem to have mattered until LIQUID GOLD, which had me more than a little befuddled, and I'm suspicious it might be because I've missed the book immediately before it in the series.
LIQUID GOLD has a fantastic, and pertinent premise - the idea that water is to the 21st century, what oil was to the 20th. As the book opens, central character, investigative journalist, ex Australian Navy Clearance diver, graduate of the Australian Defence Forces Academy, hero of the moment, Lachlan Fox reveals a story at the heart of simmering tensions between India and Pakistan - over access to water. Fascinating, and very realistic idea.
Something happened in the delivery though. I could not, for the life of me, work out who was who. As you'd expect in a thriller, the action is very fast paced, rapid-fire and there are quickly changing points of view. Normally I love that sort of style - but for some reason in LIQUID GOLD, there were so many names being introduced, and then flicked away from, that I was really struggling to work out who was who. Perhaps some of the characters have return parts from the earlier novels, but for some reason, they wouldn't quite gel as people - and I found I had to go back a lot to work out where this person was introduced, how they fitted into the tale, and even with that backtracking, I was still at a loss. I assume there's a lot from the back stories of Fox and, in particular, his romantic interest that informs Fox's behaviour in this book, and it seemed odd, that for the first time in the series, I felt I obviously needed to know a lot of that to get with the program.. so to speak.
There were very nice touches in the book. I particularly liked the way that Fox is starting to feel the effects of all this man of the moment stuff, his body is hurting, he's not quite as bullet-proof as you'd expect from a stereotypical action man. I wasn't quite so convinced by one of the major threads for one of the major female characters - but that's probably more a personal preference. The way that scenario is used is often less than convincing. But overall, the book isn't a bad story, and I'd not be surprised if fans of the Lachlan Fox books, who are up-to-date with the series, find this one just as fast-paced, action-packed and tension filled as the other books. Strangely, I've got so far out of whack with the series that I read the latest one, RED ICE, before I realised I also had this book. RED ICE worked. LIQUID GOLD didn't work as well for me. I was lost for a fair part of the book, and profoundly confused at points. Pity, because I really like this sort of thriller. Maybe I'll return to it when I've caught up with the book in the middle that I've obviously missed.
The series in order is:
Fox Hunt (2006)
Patriot Act (2007)
Blood Oil (2008)
Liquid Gold (2009)
Red Ice (2010)