Dining With Devils
by Gordon Aalborg.
Five Star Mystery,
Terror reigns supreme in this taut, finely written, novel of extremes. The story continues some of the characters met in “The Specialist.” One is moved to suggest that DwD is probably not apt dinner table conversation. This is a stark and riveting tale of attempted revenge, accidental murder and kidnapping, all entangled with deranged sadism of the worst possible kind. Yet it is written with sympathy and understanding.
Teague Kendall and his friend, Kirsten have come to Tasmania on a triumphant book tour, Kendall finally having made it to the big time. What he doesn’t realize, and why should he, is that his ex-wife Rose believes she deserves part of Kendall’s newly realized wealth. She sets out to somehow coerce her ex into parting with some money. This part of the story is a little unfocused, but that’s in keeping with Rose’s mental state, Rose, the vindictive, morally questionable nurse, hires a drugged up fellow who lives strictly hand to mouth in Tasmania’s bush, to shoot at Kendall. Not to kill him, just to get his attention.
Meanwhile, Kirsten has gone off caving with some local people, leading to a most unsettling discovery.
Aalborg has collected a fine cast of interesting and unusual characters to help him tell this story which at times meanders into interesting but occasionally irrelevant side streets. Not that there is much pavement out in the bush where a lot of the action takes place. The novel is constructed in parallel paths. For the reader there is clear foreshadowing of coming events that begin to take on a irrevocable and terrifying force of their own. We can see what’s coming and we fear mightily for several of the characters.
One of the unusual and appealing aspects of this novel is the absence of a clear hero; even the cops seem from time to time to miss clues that delay their intervention, that make the resolution that much more inevitable. We develop an unwillingness to look away, to stop turning the pages, until the dreaded conclusion is reached. The word is used too often in reviews but compelling is an adjective that comes to mind. And then there’s Bluey, the ultimate cranky Jack Terrier. The imagination of this author is something to behold and his off-beat and sometimes macabre humor adds a rich if mordant texture to the novel, something to be savored, as one would a fine meal or a top quality French wine.