2 February 2024

Review: MOLE CREEK, James Dunbar

  • This edition available from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0C8T3DB2Q
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Echo (August 1, 2023)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 332 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

A hellish war. A deadly secret. Fifty years on, in a small Tasmanian town, the truth unfolds and the killing begins again …       

Betrayal cannot be buried forever.

In the tiny Tasmanian town of Mole Creek, retired Australian cop and Vietnam veteran Pete McAuslan has retreated to his fishing cabin to write his memoirs. In Sydney, his grandson, journalist and trashy true crime author Xander, learns that Pete has taken his own life, begging forgiveness in a suicide note.

Arriving in Mole Creek in the aftermath of Pete's death, Xander discovers that his grandfather's laptop is missing. He begins to suspect that something is wrong, refusing to accept the facts as presented. With the local police not interested in investigating an apparently open-and-shut suicide, Xander sets about uncovering the truth of what happened to his grandfather.

In the process, he discovers long-buried secrets from Pete's time serving in the Vietnam war: secrets that Pete has withheld from him and everyone else for fifty years; secrets that powerful people would prefer to stay buried. Ensnared in a web of betrayals that began a generation before, Xander finds himself on the hitlist of a clinically violent assassin. Now he must race to identify the connection between the seemingly unremarkable death of an old Australian soldier and the imminent reactivation of the most powerful and potentially destructive 'sleeper' in the history of espionage - before the truth catches up with him. 

My Take

When Xander McAuslan refuses to believe that his grandfather Pete, a retired policeman and ex-Vietnam veteran has committed suicide, he unleashes a can of worms.

Pete has never told Xander very much about what he did in the Vietnam war. Xander know he was in the military police, and was sent home wounded, but little apart from that. Xander knows that his grandfather was supposedly writing his memoirs but hadn't kept in touch very well. However things about his grandfather's death don't sit well, and there are a number of puzzles: like, where is his laptop? Once Xander begins to investigate, things begin to happen.

This story was written mainly in two times frames, 50 years apart, producing a many stranded plot, which was for the main part fairly easy to follow. In the long run though, at the end, I think the author had a problem in pulling it all together, and it felt a bit rushed.

My rating: 4.2

About the Author

James Dunbar is a journalist, television scriptwriter, travel writer, university lecturer and website editor. Mole Creek is his first venture into the serious crime thriller and espionage genre. Published under Jimmy Thomson, he is also the author of two crime ‘caper’ novels and two true-crime memoirs, as well as several books about Australian army engineers (sappers) during the Vietnam War.

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