This is my first encounter with ABC journalist Tim Ayliffe’s fiction, but it won’t be the last.
Ayliffe – managing editor of television and video for ABC News – has written two previous novels featuring the veteran, haunted Australian former war correspondent John Bailey.
There’s enough backstory along the way to get a new reader up to speed, however.
Bailey has had more than his share of misfortune. He’s a recovering alcoholic who was captured and tortured while working overseas and lost the love of his life. He’s also been a victim of newspaper downsizing, but in this book has landed a new job in Sydney.
He’s writing for the monthly Enquirer Magazine, a new publication bankrolled by billionaire Jock Donaldson, and is hard at work on his first investigative piece.
Neo-Nazism is on the rise in Australia and as part of his research into this disturbing phenomenon, Bailey attends a far-right event at which the speaker is American culture warrior and white supremacist Augustus Strong.
Afterwards, he’s recognised and pushed down some stairs by Benny Hunter, leader of the Freedom Front, but he gets off lightly compared to one of the anti-Strong protesters, a young Sudanese man who ends up comatose in hospital.