Review - SOMETHING IS ROTTEN, Adam Sarafis

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

A collaborative effort, SOMETHING IS ROTTEN is the first book from New Zealand based pairing of Swedish-born novelist Linda Olsson and award-winning playwright Thomas Sainsbury writing as Adam Safaris.

A quick look at the blurb for this book might have you shaking your head a bit. Having an ex-terrorism expert working as a mechanic, despite the personal tragedy that made him change course that way is unexpected territory. You might also wonder why it is that sex worker Jade Amaro turns to him when the gruesome death of her friend is labelled suicide. But both elements do kind of make sense, or at least the action is so rapid you probably won't question any of it until way after the final page has been read.

Things progress rapidly in SOMETHING IS ROTTEN once Hallberg comes to share Amaro's concerns about the death of Brent Taylor. Not just because there is a missing manuscript and something very suss about the official verdict. There's a lot of suspect goings on at official levels as Hallberg and his friend, business journalist Lynette Church start to discover.

Crime fiction is at it's best when it delves into the murky side of real life. Goodness knows corruption and dirty political dealings isn't something new, but it's something that's increasingly being revealed. What's fascinating is the way that that scenario is illustrated by something as seemingly "ordinary" and "mundane" as meat supply quotas for New Zealand goes to show that nothing much can be taken at face value anymore. Personally it seems to explain an awful lot about the way that people are getting sick to death of politics and corruption and disengaging.

SOMETHING IS ROTTEN isn't utterly and completely pitch perfect - there are some odd clangers in some of the phraseology and some weird technical assertions. These definitely did drop this reader out of the flow of the story on a number of occasions (enough to make me bookmark them anyway). But with the leniency always applied to a debut novel, SOMETHING IS ROTTEN, overall shows considerable promise.

Year of Publication
Book Number (in series)

(stative) be wary, watchful, on the lookout.

When budding writer Brent Taylor dies a horrific death in the Auckland University Library, his friend, sex worker Jade Amaro, refuses to believe it is suicide. She seeks help from Sam Hallberg, a former government advisor on terrorism, now working as a mechanic.

As Sam reluctantly agrees to look into the death, a hunt for a lost manuscript leads him ever deeper into a complex case of corruption and deceit. Meanwhile, Sam’s friend, brilliant business journalist Lynette Church, embarks on an investigation of dirty political dealings with major global implications, and with ties to the Iraq War.

It soon becomes clear that something is indeed very rotten…

Beginning in New Zealand, a small, clean and green country at the end of the earth, then winding its way around the globe, this clear-sighted and tense thriller will have you on the edge of your seat. Something is Rotten is beautifully written morality tale with Shakespearean twists and turns.

Review Review - SOMETHING IS ROTTEN, Adam Sarafis
Karen Chisholm
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Blog Currently Reading - Something is Rotten, Adam Sarafis
Karen Chisholm
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