20 October 2011

Review: RING OF FIRE, Peter Klein

  • was to have been published by Pan Macmillan Australia 2011.
    Recently removed from the publishing schedule.
    I certainly hope another publisher picks it up.
  • ISBN 9781742610146
  • 308 pages
  • Source: advanced review copy supplied by Pan Macmillan Australia.
Publisher's blurb  (from the dust jacket)

A fire takes no prisoners, has no conscience and destroys indiscriminately. So, too, does the 'Barn Burner'.

When horse racing steward Ryan Carlisle is banished to a long, hot summer on the bush racing circuit, he's devastated. Even though this is a chance to get away from his unbearable boss, his career is at a crossroads and his divorce has left him feeling insecure.

But Ryan has no time to dwell on his misfortunes: an arsonist begins torching racing stables in a string of seemingly random attacks.

As the tally in human life and horses rises, it's clear to Ryan the Barn Burner will not stop until caught. The police are baffled, racing officials are ducking for cover and when Ryan starts digging into his father's past and is seconded to the Arson Squad, his involvement in the case becomes very personal. And suddenly, he needs to find the answers before he, too, is caught up in the ring of fire.

My take

I'm still reeling a bit from the information that RING OF FIRE has been removed from Pan Macmillan's publishing schedule. I think it is a nice solid read by an established Australian author and certainly hope it gets placed somewhere. 

Peter Klein has branched out a bit in RING OF FIRE. The central character is not the gambler John Punter who featured in the three titles in the Punter series (see below). Ryan Carlisle is a steward and so we see horse racing in Australia from a different and largely unfamiliar perspective.

The publisher's information that I was sent also says
    Australians are terrified by fires; they take no prisoners, have no conscience, and destroy lives indiscriminately. Klein was heavily influenced by the tragic Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 and after visiting the worst hit areas of Kinglake and Marysville some months afterwards, he decided to write a novel about a fire starter.
At first it is thought that the fires that engulf training stables, and kill both trainers and horses, are accidental or perhaps even insurance scams. But as the number of fires rise, then the authorities realise there is an arsonist at work targetting those connected to the racing industry.
Perhaps a weakness in the plot structure is that I worked out who the arsonist was about half way through the story. Klein attempted to lay a couple of red herrings in my path, but they just didn't really work.

Peter Klein also gives Ryan Carlisle a great interest in fishing, like himself, and these passages have an authentic ring to them.

RING OF FIRE is a nicely paced novel. It attempts to get past the "who" and to explore, less successfully and credibly I thought, "why". The ending was a bit predictable.
Peter Klein still isn't Australia's answer to Dick (and now Felix) Francis but he is doing well.

My rating: 4.3

Other Peter Klein titles reviewed on MiP

1 comment:

Vicki said...

"Australians are terrified by fires; they take no prisoners, have no conscience, and destroy lives indiscriminately.

He's not wrong there. We were in the thick of the Black Saturday fires. Very harrowing time and we were the lucky ones.

I wonder why the publishers pulled the title. I would like to have read it.

Thanks for the review, Kerrie.


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