A humanoid killer pursues a couple through the Australian Outback in this compact thriller.
A young man taking the scenic route to a job interview in Adelaide stops at a small-town bar and makes the acquaintance of a young woman, a freelance writer planning to view some Aboriginal cave paintings down a rough, unused stretch of land. Impulsively deciding to view the paintings himself, the young man follows only to find the woman terrified, roughed up, and fleeing from what she claims is some creature that tried to kill her. Essentially the novel is a chase, with the killer in the woman's stolen Land Cruiser in unceasing pursuit of the couple who are trying to escape in a hatchback pitifully unsuited to the terrain. The story has similarities to Steven Spielberg’s classic chase film Duel, and the story proceeds with great physical specificity. The reader is informed of every gear shift, every turn of the steering wheel. There's not a moment when what's happening is unclear. But clarity doesn't necessarily equal dramatic propulsion, and the detail quickly gets tedious. And the killer is fast on his feet but weighed down by the metaphorical baggage of a half-man, half–savage-being rising from the untamed Outback to wreak revenge on the representatives of civilization.
This fast and precise thriller features perpetual motion but feels stuck in a low gear.