Australian costume-drama specialist Gilling (The Adventures of Miles and Isabel, 2002, etc.) goes modern, even postmodern, in this tale of a newspaper subeditor who lies his way into deep trouble.
Though they formed a wary “alliance of outsiders” at St. Dominic’s School, Nick Carmody and Danny Grogan are not what you’d call close. In fact, Nick doesn’t even like Danny, who invites his old classmate to his Sydney nightclub and then keeps Nick at arm’s length—maybe because Danny’s hands are on an underage girlfriend and his bloodstream is full of a controlled substance. After learning the next day that a remote camera clocked Danny’s car at 90 mph earlier that evening, Nick gets a call from billionaire contractor Harry Grogan, who wants Nick to say he was driving and offers to pay handsomely for the lie that will keep his son, who’s already had trouble with the traffic courts, out of jail. Nick’s gut says no, but the rest of him says yes, first to Grogan, then to Danny’s oily solicitor, then to Senior Constable Holloway in court. Danny goes free, and Nick, learning that his lie covered up much more than speeding, goes on the run. Leaving Sydney for parts unknown, he switches cars with a stranger who’s obligingly left his keys and identification papers inside the unlocked vehicle. Nick’s chameleon talent for masquerading as someone else braces him for the obligatory complications. He falls for a woman he meets in his new persona. Someone from his past recognizes him. And he realizes that the man whose identity he stole had a history that may have made him less than an ideal choice.
The author deals familiar cards—the stray dog that follows Nick home, the meet-cute with a new love interest, the growing fear that he’s being tracked to his doom—but varies the emphasis and tone enough to make this story fresh and urgent to the last page.