The Kill Bill, Richard Evans
THE KILL BILL is the second book in the Referendum Series by ex-politician Richard Evans, and boy can you pick that this author knows all about the back-room machinations that go on in the political world.
In this case we're talking about those around changes to the constitution of Australia to allow federal government control over things like Euthanasia Rights which are increasingly being debated, and passed into law at a State level. Sounds technical, but the basis for all of this flows into the narrative easily, and really readers just need to know that there's a battle for control over the Australian Federal Parliament going on between a Catholic Treasurer, a prime minister who is increasingly losing her grip, and a Catholic, but conflicted, Attorney General.
Aside from the political machinations there's a lot of stuff thrown at these characters - Attorney General Charles Stevedore in particular has been given a lot to deal with, a wife whose prolonged suffering death haunts him still, and now the violent, brutal, sickening attack of his daughter leaving her fighting for life, while her awful husband mucks about with his drug fuelled lifestyle, his mistress and some seriously tacky decision making. Treasurer Parker Osborne is in cahoots with the shadowy, nasty, Vatican emissary sent to make sure that whatever else happens, euthanasia legislation must be stopped, the Church believing that it's a slippery slope to somewhere else they don't "approve" of. And the Prime Minister has a drinking and focus problem, and, it turns out, a looming sexual scandal to be dealing with.
Needless to say a hefty pot to be stirred here, sometimes with enormous effect, at other points less successfully. At this point it's definitely worth a trigger warning - Stevedore's daughter's attack is utterly appalling, sexual, violent, just dreadful, and it's described at points in some startling detail which may be quite confronting for some readers. It is also a tad disconcerting to realise that no matter how little respect anyone could possibly have for the denizens of one particular side of Canberra's corridors of power, the lot described in THE KILL BILL will do nothing whatsoever to restore any faith in the political system.
As fascinating a concept as THE KILL BILL was overall, I did find the reading of it a bit tricky at points, there's a lot going on, and a lot of it's not that particularly surprising, given the direction the action is heading in, so it felt a bit padded or drawn out, even gratuitous which was uncomfortable to say the least. Personally I found the attack details really offputting, particularly because the resolution of that entire thread just didn't work for me - it felt, I don't know, highly unlikely and disrespectful of what she'd been through, tacky basically. As did the sexual "scandal" surrounding a female prime minister. Perhaps it says more about my feelings towards the Catholic Church than anything else, but the only one of these aspects that didn't feel gratuitous was the interference of the church and the attempt to implement an agenda that most people don't support.
But THE KILL BILL is really a big, bold, twisty thriller, exposing the worst of politics, so perhaps you need to be thrown utterly off-balance by the entire thing. It does definitely live up to the suggestion from the blurb that it will be fast-paced though, and the insider knowledge did lead to a very sobering consideration of just how low can politics go.
FAITH, DEATH AND FEROCIOUS POLITICAL SCHEMING
He's the nation's chief law maker. His daughter is fighting for her life in intensive care, a victim of a terrible crime. Will he ignore the prime minister's demands and his own laws to save her? Or will politics and the Catholic Church prevent him from doing his job?
Treasurer, Parker Osborne, initiates a covert plan, in partnership with Vatican emissary, Cardinal Rosseau, to guarantee proposed euthanasia legislation is destined for failure in the national parliament triggering a leadership challenge.
Leadership rival and Attorney General, Charles Stevedore, witnessed his wife suffer a prolonged death and agrees to prepare euthanasia legislation for the prime minister. He is forced to question his politics when his daughter is brutally attacked and left for dead, now surviving on life-support. Will he switch off the machines ... or not?
Cardinal Rosseau captivated by the ferociousness of Australian politics plans his own coup d'etat whilst Osborne counts his numbers and prepares to take high office knowing his elevation to prime minister will witness the crucial end of euthanasia legislation.
In a surprising development, the prime minister makes a decision which changes everything.
The Kill Bill is a gripping political thriller featuring emotional and surprising plot twists, convincing characters, and exposes the black-art of politics that will have you cheering. If you like fast-paced, page-turning thrillers that draw you into the story then Richard Evans' fourth book will not disappoint you.