David McGill is a New Zealand social historian who has published 53 books. Born in Auckland, educated in the Bay of Plenty and at a Christchurch seminary, he trained as a teacher and did a BA at Victoria University of Wellington. He worked as a feature writer for The Listener, Sydney’s The Bulletin, London’s TVTimes, wrote columns for the Evening Post in Wellington and edited a local lifestyle magazine before becoming a full-time writer in 1984. His book subjects include Ghost Towns of New Zealand and the country’s first bushranger, local and national heritage buildings, Kiwi prisoners of war, the history of the NZ Customs Department, a biography of a criminal lawyer, a personal history of rock music, a rail journey around the country, historical and comic novels, several thrillers and six collections of Kiwi slang. He collects owl figurines and reads thrillers.
Ru Patterson, the country’s leading broadcaster, is organizing protests against President Johnson’s envoy Henry Cabot Lodge, in Wellington to pressure New Zealand to send troops to Vietnam. Dan Delaney is first on the scene of a young naked woman dead in a hot tub and Ru unconscious beside her. Dan interferes with evidence to protect his friend. The NZ Security Intelligence Service continues the deceased agent’s attempts to sideline Patterson and infiltrate students threatening violence, including an anarchist attracted to arson.
Delaney is dragooned into helping the authorities, threatening his personal relationships with Ru and his daughter Hinemoa, Dan’s goddaughter. Hine is a headstrong young drama student mixed up in marijuana trafficking and in mad, crazy love with an older student who treats her no better than the parts they play, Hamlet and Ophelia. With Ru sidelined, Dan is well aware of his duty of care.
Delaney is caught up in gang and police threats against Hine, a police raid on a suspected marijuana dealer, an SIS interrogation, the planting of an incendiary device in a student theatre, an unexpected encounter with Prime Minister Keith Holyoake, student confrontation at Lodge’s airport arrival and an incendiary incident at Parliament, with Special Task Force marksmen surrounding the building. The stability of the ANZUS alliance and Dan’s family life depend on the outcome.