Preservation, Jock Serong
"As he closed the door behind him, he imagined the man becoming inert without the human company that lit him. The eyes would go cold and dark and the voice would recede somewhere, into some silent depth beyond the reach of the virtuous. Or the sane.
In the space of ten minutes, the man in the bed had unnerved Joshua Grayling completely."
The wreck of the Sydney Cove in Bass Strait, the attempt by seventeen of the survivors to sail a longboat to Sydney only to be wrecked a second time and their desperate walk of survival to Sydney, with only three survivors, are all historical facts. However, the diary, which one of the survivors kept, and historical records from the time can only tell a small part of their story, Jock Serong has taken these small threads and woven a much darker tale than history tells us. The dark heart of the story is the character is John Figge, one of the survivors, and yet he is one also of the characters who Serong uses to explain why, and how, the people of the various Koori nations along the coast initially helped the men and then later on attacked them. There is another survivor who sees this from another point of view but to say too much at this point would reveal a key part of the story. These two characters along with Charlotte Grayling, the wife of Joshua Grayling, are the greatest strengths of Preservation because they see the landscape, and the people within it, with a different eye.
In conclusion Preservation, a story which is as much about survival as it is about who and why, will appeal to both mystery and historical readers alike. Thank you Jock Serong for a riveting and thought provoking read.
On a beach not far from the isolated settlement of Sydney in 1797, a fishing boat picks up three shipwreck survivors, distressed and terribly injured. They have walked hundreds of miles across a landscape whose features—and inhabitants—they have no way of comprehending. They have lost fourteen companions along the way. Their accounts of the ordeal are evasive. It is Lieutenant Joshua Grayling’s task to investigate the story. He comes to realise that those fourteen deaths were contrived by one calculating mind and, as the full horror of the men’s journey emerges, he begins to wonder whether the ruthless killer poses a danger to his own family.