Review - The Direction of Our Fear, David Briggs

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

THE DIRECTION OF OUR FEAR is such an interesting idea - multiple characters living separate lives, getting on with their day to day existences, moving through place and time without knowing each other, or even being aware that there will come that intersecting point - a morning commuter train in Wellington. It's an appealing idea as we become increasingly aware of the randomness of fate in our modern day world.

As the individual stories of the characters are built, alongside the shadowy world of surveillance and external threat, the reader is left constantly wondering not just what is the thing that connects all these people, but when will it happen. This could leave some searching for some sort of connection with these disparate stories, as that connection to character is paramount, because the threat is so insidiuous, taking what feels like a long time to eventuate. For this reader it engendered a somewhat detached feeling, observational as opposed to intuitively emotionally invested. What investment that did eventually occur then felt a bit engineered, almost like the threat came at a point where disconnection was starting to become an issue. Perhaps there was something there mirroring standard government behaviour where it's hard to miss the occasional external threat chucked into the daily message when it's become obvious that voters are switching off in droves.

Having said that, THE DIRECTION OF OUR FEAR is obviously exploring love, loss and human relationships against the backdrop of threat - maybe if you approach the novel less as a crime novel or thriller and more as a look at the human condition, as there's much to consider from the later point of view.

Year of Publication

On a morning commuter train in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, the lives of three people briefly intersect. Sally is a 17-year-old, tentatively stepping into womanhood. Brendan is a middle-aged widower, living in the shadow of his wife's death. Tamas is a Hungarian immigrant, missing his wife and child as he struggles to begin a new life far from home. Meanwhile, in a nondescript building near Dunedin's Otago University, Farida translates messages for the security services and catches glimpses of a plot that could threaten them all. Author David Briggs explores themes of love and loss and the tangle of human relationships - and of the struggle to choose our destiny in a shifting and uncertain world."

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