A fiction debut from Australia that relies on a good, gritty mix of melodrama and disaster novel. Loathsome Ray Mead, who divides his feelings between his family and his mistress in separate cities, is using his 70-ton truck to haul secret shipments of parrots and other Australian birds into the desert, where a plane picks them up and flies them to Indonesia. This is quite illegal, as is Ray's return haul of hefty heroin packets (they require four attachâ€š cases). So two police forces are investigating Ray--the newly formed Fauna Squad and the narcotics bureau, led by obsessed Mike Lindsay (his son died of an overdose). Mike sends young cop Julie out to hitchhike the truck route and help bag the dope carrier. When Ray picks Julie up, he instantly decides to rape her at the first stop--and does it. Julie, nonplussed, comes back for more, seductively trying to get Ray to weave her into the drug traffic, and at last Mike and the Fauna Squad capture Ray with his bird cages in the desert and his suspicious attachâ€š cases. But, booked in Darwin, Ray escapes that same night when a fantastic cyclone levels the city, and an almost surreal chase follows as Mike tracks Ray through the colossal ruins. Rough and vivid.