Source: Review copy
Publication: 26 May 2022 from Orion
My thanks to Orion for an advance copy for review
IT WAS JUST SUPPOSED TO BE A FAMILY VACATION.
A TERRIBLE ACCIDENT CHANGED EVERYTHING.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF UNTIL THEY COME FOR YOUR FAMILY.
After moving from a small country town to Seattle, Heather Baxter marries Tom, a widowed doctor with a young son and teenage daughter. A working vacation overseas seems like the perfect way to bring the new family together, but once they’re deep in the Australian outback, the jet-lagged and exhausted kids are so over their new mom.
When they discover a remote Dutch Island, off-limits to outside visitors, the family talks their way onto the ferry, taking a chance on an adventure far from the reach of iPhones and Instagram.
But as soon as they set foot on the island, which is run by a tightly knit clan of locals, everything feels wrong. Then a shocking accident propels the Baxters from an unsettling situation into an absolute nightmare.
When Heather and the kids are separated from Tom, they are forced to escape alone, seconds ahead of their pursuers.
Now it’s up to Heather to save herself and the kids, even though they don’t trust her, the harsh bushland is filled with danger, and the locals want her dead.
Heather has been underestimated her entire life, but she knows that only she can bring her family home again and become the mother the children desperately need, even if it means doing the unthinkable to keep them all alive.
Adrian McKinty can write and write stunningly well. His Sean Duffy series provides more than sufficient evidence of that. He is capable of nuance, character depth and so much more, but this is a straightforward action thriller. The blurb, reproduced above, tells you all you need to know about the plot. It is one woman’s battle to save herself and her family from a rabid situation in which the odds are firmly stacked against them and there is seemingly no way out.
The Island is written in a cinematic style so it’s no surprise that it has gone straight to Hulu.
Tom is an orthopaedic doctor in the United States, and Heather, a former massage therapist, is his second wife. Now married for a year, Heather is tasked with looking after Tom’s two children. The family are in Melbourne for a conference that Tom is speaking at when, in an attempt to keep the children happy, they blag their way with cash on to a private island in the expectation of seeing many kangaroos and koalas.
You don’t readily take to Tom. A man who hires a Porsche to go into the outback is always going to be a bit of a tool, isn’t he? And the way he waves his cash around to get what he wants is not a good omen for things to come.
So it proves when things go badly wrong on the island and suddenly the entire family is fighting for their lives. Central to the action is Heather, a woman whose upbringing on Goose Island proves to be surprisingly helpful and it is enjoyable to watch this mild mannered masseuse change into a thundering warrior as the book progresses.
As an adventure movie I’m certain it will work well in a Die Hard kind of a way. Certainly there’s enough violence and grisly, scary, gory bits to make you squirm and squeal. I enjoyed the way that Heather was forced to it her wits against an entire family of tough and dangerous desperadoes headed up by a matriarch who brooks no dissent.
Verdict: It’s a kind of Die Hard meets Hunger Games You’ll need to suspend all your disbelief, but if you let it entertain you, you’ll find you can while away some happy hours reading this tense and action packed thriller. A great one for a summer holiday, I reckon, but really, McKinty is capable of so much more.
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Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. His father was a boilermaker and ship’s engineer and his mother a secretary. Adrian went to Oxford University on a full scholarship to study philosophy before emigrating to the United States to become a high school English teacher. His books have won the Edgar Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award and have been translated into over 20 languages. Adrian is a reviewer and critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Irish Times and The Guardian. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.