Mark Abernethy is a speechwriter, journalist and author. Born in New Zealand, he has lived in Australia for most of his adult life. A former editor at Australian Penthouse magazine, he now writes for The Bulletin and the Australian Financial Review.
It's nice to see an Australian action-thriller writer taking an unashamedly Australian viewpoint. Abernethy's sequel to his bestselling Golden Serpent doesn't pander to potential overseas (read US) audiences by installing a buff, gormless, testosterone-filled American as the main character. Instead we have the blokey, super-spy Alan McQueen (aka 'Mac') who, with a nod and a wink, a 'g'day' in the right ear and some old-fashioned Aussie nous (and muscle when required) tracks his way through the minefields of international espionage in the interests of the country. Mac has been called to investigate the Bali bombings and is drawn into the heart of tensions between Western powers and Indonesian police. While watching over forensic scientists on the bomb site, Mac discovers that one of the explosions was caused by a mini-nuclear device, contrary to the line coming across to the public. Armed with this knowledge, Mac trails a group of terrorists through the heart of Indonesia. Back in Australia, Mac discovers the existence of an underground terrorist cell with strong links to the Bali bombings, and the possibility of a similar nuclear device being let off on home soil. The book doesn't take itself too seriously, and is fun and engaging. Thriller fans will love the 'Aussie-ness' of the yarn as well as the complexities of the plot. Shane Strange is a bookseller at Paperchain Books in Canberra