An Australian’s solitary fishing trip on an isolated New Zealand island takes a frightening turn when he witnesses a murder and becomes the killers’ next target in Roberts’ debut thriller.
Ryan Delaney wants to escape the modern world, so he chooses New Zealand’s South Island as his destination. Its remoteness is ideal for two weeks of fly-fishing, accompanied only by the peaceful sounds of nature. But his solitude is ruined by the sound of voices belonging to a group of apparent hunters: three men carrying rifles and a fourth who’s unarmed. Ryan ducks behind a rock and watches as an argument between the men escalates, and the unarmed man ends up dead from a gunshot. The killers—Kane, Moss, and Whitey—soon become aware of Ryan’s presence and set out after him. Ryan must get to his personal locater beacon, as his helicopter pickup isn’t scheduled for another 13 days. Elsewhere, Inspector Sean Ford is putting a task force together to look into crystal meth–related deaths. This includes the case of a recently killed teenage girl, in which Det. Constable Patuki Robson makes an arrest. With any luck, Patuki will link the case to Kane and his cohorts before they catch up to Ryan. Roberts aptly captures the desperation of Ryan’s flight; the protagonist is well aware that even a slight injury, such as a twisted ankle, could lead to his murder. The villains are shown to be both merciless (Kane threatens to shoot someone who’s slowing him down) and human (Moss thinks of his beloved family back home). The focus on the bad guys is an effective choice, particularly after it’s revealed that the trio is part of a large, powerful syndicate. However, when the story pulls away from the island chase, it slows the pace, particularly during a lengthy presentation that Patuki gives to high school students about the dangers of drugs. The final act is appropriately fierce, though, and Roberts shrewdly abstains from excessive violence.
A taut cat-and-mouse game with potent characters.