Doom Creek, Alan Carter
In this current political climate, the rise of the ugly, radicalised individual is all too real, and the reflection of this in quiet, idyllic New Zealand somehow more shocking. Drafted originally before the appalling Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019, Alan Carter has chosen to (in his words from the acknowledgement) foreshadow the the inevitable consequences of toxic ideology and the ready availability of military style weapons. Likewise for the rural Australian location that I live in, he comments that you can't help but be aware that guns are everywhere, but luckily for us and New Zealand, there doesn't seem to be the fetish about them. Again in his words, they are tools, plain and simple. A necessary requirement for farmers, but always available for anybody who is prepared to take advantage of that. It's an issue that needs constant awareness and consideration.
Given the sub-text and the issues that are addressed in DOOM CREEK, readers will find that there is nothing preachy, heavy-handed or overt about the messaging. With his normal careful hand, clever pacing, and nicely pitched combination of personal and professional, Carter is the sort of author who can deliver a well-timed reminder without having to resort to lecturing. Built into the nastiness of the ideology and idiocy, there's a compassionate family story of a couple with a disabled son, and a man in law-enforcement for all the right reasons. There's what appears to be run of the mill murder and mayhem, disappearance and random acts of vandalism. There's also an undercurrent of something really peculiar going on, something very threatening and disturbing. Nick Chester is fond of the quiet life, but not enough to step away when wrongs are committed or being planned. He's a person that's trying to do right by his family and his community, occasionally blundering his way into a heap of pain that he probably could have avoided. This time there's something a bit more going on with him as well, something that really does make you wonder sometimes if author's hate their central protagonists, or just want to give them the rounds of the kitchen every now again to remind them who is in charge.
Nick's life, his family, the crew he works with, his neighbours and the beautiful place that he works in were introduced to readers in the first book in the series, MARLBOROUGH MAN and it would definitely help if readers had read that book. Chester's got a complicated backstory, and the reasons why he is in New Zealand, and what happened to him and his family once he arrived is useful to know about (and it's an excellent book).
Having said that, you don't need to worry too much though, DOOM CREEK will mostly stand on its own. There's plenty of issues to chew over when reading this book, and there's enough hints about the backstory and recent past to keep new readers from getting lost. Having said that, if you're new to any of Alan Carter's books then you're in for a treat. Start with this Nick Chester series and then track down the Cato Kwong series. Then you can join the rest of us, standing by for wherever he takes us next.
Sergeant Nick Chester has dodged the Geordie gangsters he once feared and is out of hiding and looking forward to the quiet life.
But gold fever is creating ill feeling between prospectors, and a new threat lurks in the form of trigger-happy Americans preparing for doomsday by building a bolthole in the valley.
As tensions simmer, Nick finds himself up against an evil that knows no borders and no depths.