THE ENDANGERED LIST - Brian Westlake

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Publication Details
Book Title: 
The Endangered List
ISBN: 
9781741753608
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Book Synopsis

For twenty years, Brian 'Frosty' Westlake has been the best mate, understudy, rigger and heir apparent to Australia's 'biggest export since wool', the TV naturalist Mick Lamington.  Mick's worth a fortune, especially in the US, where the networks and millions of viewers can't get enough of his laid-back, larrikin joking around with the world's deadliest creatures.
 
When Mick dies in a bizarre accident while shooting an underwater documentary, the hugely profitable but highly leveraged house of cards he has built threatens to collapse - unless a replacement can be found to finish filming the series.  Frosty's the real animal wrangler behind the scenes of the show, and knows he will be the perfect replacement for Mick.  He is devastated when the job instead goes to ex-Chippendale model and scuba diver, Glen Mellon.  But then Mellon dies in another unlikely accident on the job, and Frosty is asked to compile a shortlist of nature presenters to take over the series.
 
Book Review

It goes without saying that there are some - and they are only some - elements of this story that are "heavily" influenced by the death of a sort of local celebrity; and undoubtedly that's going to get some readers a bit hot under the collar about THE ENDANGERED LIST.  That and some really boring, coy carry on over swearing throughout the book that just about drove this reader nuts.
 
The basic premise of the book is that when the more famous overseas than at home, Mick dies in a bizarre (and frankly the highlight of the book) scene off the Tasmanian coast there is absolutely no doubt that his death was an accident.  There's also little doubt in Brian Westlake's mind about who should take over.  Unfortunately the money men have other ideas.
 
THE ENDANGERED LIST is told in Brian's voice - first-person, ridiculous carry-on with swearing, self-promotional voice.  Woven into the story of Mick's death; his funeral and then the problems of keeping the "brand" alive post Mick's death, is a lot of detail about how Brian sees things and wants things to happen.  It's an approach that can work if you have great sympathy or even dislike for the central character, and whilst THE ENDANGERED LIST starts out with a fair amount of promise, the problem really is that after a while Brian could bore for the world.
 
Of course, there's a bit of controversy in stealing some elements of the life and death of a recently deceased TV "celebrity".  Frankly I paid so little attention to his goings on when he was alive, that some of the "homages" in this book probably passed me by.  Possibly if you had been a bit of fan of the bloke with the stick, then you could be put off by the idea that a lot of the mystique he built up was more artifice than art.  Ultimately I'm not sure I subscribe to the "don't speak ill of the dead' group; and I can't help thinking that if you spend your life using the "media" to build a brand when you're alive, you're on very shaky ground if you object to the brand being pushed after you're dead ... but, the problem that I had ultimately with THE ENDANGERED LIST was not the subject matter, was not the tacky behaviour of just about everybody in the book.  What lost me in the end is - it was a good joke for the first few chapters but it got very thin on the ground very quickly.
 
And if your characters are going to swear - cut out the coy abbreviation garbage - it really is unbelievably annoying.
 
Brian Westlake is the pseudonym of a well-known Australian writer.  It remains to be seen how long it is before the real author is outed.
 

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