I originally read and reviewed REDBACK when it was released in 2007 by MIRA Press, so when Clan Destine (run by Lindy / I'm her web wrangler by way of declaration) republished it, I was really really interested to see if it would hold up well, particularly given that it has a number of quite topical references (okay well some digs as well) for the time.
At the time I mentioned that REDBACK is a quite a step away from Cameron's Kit O'Malley series - it's very much a big, pacey thriller, peopled with strong characters (male and female), a complicated yet disconcertingly believable multi-threaded plot and a hefty dose of subtle humour.
An elderly British Lord is wined, dined and slaughtered. An American Journalist is following leads for a story on computer war games. The son of a wealthy Saudi family doesn't follow the path his father and uncle have set out for him. A hostage situation in the Pacific; a man dies in Japan; plans for mass destruction are triggered in Texas; a team watches and waits in Pakistan; a politician is shot dead in Sydney; and a young man is seduced in Paris. All of these threads slowly build their own individual tension and the connections start to be revealed.
Redback is a covert, very low profile hostage retrieval team. There is a reason that they were sent to that small Pacific Island and that reason slowly reveals itself as the team become involved in something much bigger than just hostage retrieval. Connections from that island, around the world, into terrorism, organised crime, money and influence reveal themselves as REDBACK builds momentum towards, amongst other things, the SETA conference to be held in Sydney - with major international political figures attending.
REDBACK's many threads are told in a series of, mostly short, chapters which address each plot element individually until the book starts to move towards the final conclusion and a web is revealed. Whilst this does have a feeling of chopping and changing the story elements, it works because each chapter quickly advances the story and then you dart somewhere else for a look at what is going on in that corner. The choppiness gives the whole thing a sense of urgency, compelling the reader to continue on - increasing the sense of foreboding or excitement at what is to come. This is enhanced by the strength of the main character's of each thread. You don't forget who Bryn or Jana are. You know about Scott and how the story of war games is starting to get bigger than he ever expected. You know the team who are quietly (but impatiently) watching events in Pakistan, feeling frustrated by not being allowed to act. You know that Jesse-Jay in Texas is easily manipulated and you know what he's about to do.
Now as I said at the start I was interested to see if the book would hold up 3 years on from its original timeframe. Undoubtedly there's some humour in being able to match the Political movers in REDBACK against some well-known players at the time the book was originally written. But I don't think you lose a lot of the suspense, or the intrinsic problem with .. well let's face it a politician is a politician is a politician and the little quirks may come and go with individuals, but the basic behaviour is all too sadly always the same. Much of the intrigue, the action within the book, the events that are occurring throughout the plot are unfortunately dateless and still quite chillingly believable.
In 2007 REDBACK was one of my favourite books of the year, and in 2010 it was still a rippingly good read. Fast paced, fantastic characters and great intrigue this is just flat out a good thriller.
I said at the time of the first release that I hoped REDBACK was finishing where another book could very well start off - not being sure if that was the plan at all. But Lindy - I know there's another book in your head and all I can say is Please Please Please.....