REDBACK - Lindy Cameron
Taking a big step away from her Kit O'Malley series, Lindy Cameron has created an excellent thriller. Pacey, peopled with strong female characters; good male characters; a complicated yet disconcertingly believable multi-threaded plot and a hefty dose of subtle humour, REDBACK is definitely going to be amongst my best books of 2007 list.
An elderly British Lord is wined, dined and slaughtered. An American Journalist is following leads for a story on computer war games. The son of a wealthy Saudi family doesn't follow the path his father and uncle have set out for him. A hostage situation in the Pacific; a man dies in Japan; plans for mass destruction are triggered in Texas; a team watches and waits in Pakistan; a politician is shot dead in Sydney; and a young man is seduced in Paris. All of these threads slowly build their own individual tension and the connections start to be revealed.
Redback is a covert, very low profile hostage retrieval team. There is a reason that they were sent to that small Pacific Island and that reason slowly reveals itself as the team become involved in something much bigger than just hostage retrieval. Connections from that island, around the world, into terrorism, organised crime, money and influence reveal themselves as REDBACK builds momentum towards, amongst other things, the SETA conference to be held in Sydney - with major international political figures attending.
REDBACK's many threads are told in a series of, mostly short, chapters which address each plot element individually until the book starts to move towards the final conclusion and a web is revealed. Whilst this does have a feeling of chopping and changing the story elements, it works because each chapter quickly advances the story and then you dart somewhere else for a look at what is going on in that corner. The choppiness gives the whole thing a sense of urgency, compelling the reader to continue on - increasing the sense of foreboding or excitement at what is to come. This is enhanced by the strength of the main character's of each thread. You don't forget who Bryn or Jana are. You know about Scott and how the story of war games is starting to get bigger than he ever expected. You know the team who are quietly (but impatiently) watching events in Pakistan, feeling frustrated by not being allowed to act. You know that Jesse-Jay in Texas is easily manipulated and you know what he's about to do. And for those of us in Australia, we can immediately recognise some of the politicians involved, even with their names changed - and, well, it's not far into REDBACK and you'll be snorting with laughter at the non-too-flattering but brutally accurate portrayal.
REDBACK seems to finish where another book could very well start off - all I can say is - yes please!
Commander Bryn Gideon and the crack Australian ‘Redback Retrieval Team’ rescue hostages from Pacific island rebels. American journalist Scott Dreher, researching computer war-game training, uncovers links between Western government agencies and known terrorist groups.
Meanwhile ritual killings in London and Tokyo, a bomb on a European train, an assassination on an Australian beach, and an attack on a US army base have half the world on high alert. The question is: are these incidents the work of isolated opportunistic terrorists, or part of something more sinister?
Gideon’s Redbacks join the race to expose the ultimate conspiracy of a truly evil force; one that plays both sides of the terror divide against each other.