Never Never by James Patterson (and Candice Fox)
Things always seem more real when they’re set in a place you actually know. That’s probably one of the reasons this book was simultaneously awesome and freaky as hell.
Set in Western Australia, it is the sequel to Black & Blue (you can read my review of that one here). The first one was obviously so successful that Patterson ditched the BookShot format for the second book, and made it a full length novel. And I’m not complaining.
Detective Harriet Blue, sent to solve an unexplained death case on a mine near Kalgoorlie. At least it was described as being near Kalgoorlie, but I googled it and it appears Bandya is actually about 7 hours from Kal. But just so you get the general location. We’re talking about a 13 hour drive from Perth.
I am going to try to leave this review devoid of spoilers, even for the first book, so I won’t go into details as to how she ended up being shipped off from Sydney. (Read Black & Blue to find out. You won’t regret it.)
Danny Stanton went missing from the mine he worked on, but nobody really took much notice of it. The people in charge say that workers constantly up and leave when they get sick of the FIFO work. No one really took much notice of Danny’s disappearance until his severed foot turned up, that is. Found to have been detached from his body by dingos post-mortem, Harry and her new partner (from Perth, I’ll add) Detective Edward Whittacker, are faced with having to find out what happened to Danny, while meeting resistance from the camp bosses to give any sort of assistance.
Very quickly it becomes apparent that more people have gone missing, but again, nobody paid too much attention to it before the detectives arrived. But people continue to disappear. The novel flicks between first person point of view from Harry, to third person narration of the killer and his victims. In this way, we often know the fate of the victim before the detectives do. And I can tell you, just like yelling at your TV won’t make your footy team play better, try as you might, you can’t save the victims even when you know what’s coming.
The killer hunts his victims, chooses them specifically. He hides in the unofficial tunnels of the mine and out in the Never Never, so he can use his big fancy shotgun with the scope to play with, harm and eventually kill his victims. His killing is a game to him. It’s very creepy to read. It’s also creepy to imagine being in these unofficial, unstable tunnels, with the massive holes that could drop you down a kilometre or more into oblivion. The claustrophobia in me is like “noooope”.
The camp is riddled with drugs, prostitutes, Earth-hugging protestors and shady characters galore, so there’s no shortage of suspects. It’s a race against the killer, as Harry and Whitt try to find out who the killer is before he kills them and everybody else on the mine.
In the middle of the West Australian outback, there is a real sense of isolation in the camp. Not only do they have to be on rations to ensure their supplies last until their next delivery, but alcohol is more expensive due to popular demand, and the usual laws around drugs, weapons and prostitution don’t seem to apply.
Harry is a strong female character, and I like her a lot. She can kick serious ass, and isn’t afraid of the huntsman spider that takes up residence above her bed. I think that says a lot about a person.
Patterson must have done a lot of research about Western Australia. It was so satisfying to hear mentions of Perth and other places that I’ve actually visited, and are more or less close to my home. But it also made it more scary in a way, like this could actually happen in my world. I feel very differently about FIFO now, and the outback.
My only concern about the story? I understand to an extent how Patterson explained the mine bosses not really attempting to assist with the investigation. They really would lose an exorbitant amount of money if they shut the mine down. But after people kept dying, I feel like an evacuation would surely have been needed. Right? I mean, an unknown man was hunting their workers at an alarming and increasing rate. You’d think they’d be more willing to assist the police trying to end the hunt, at the very least so that their mine could go back to functioning without drawing unwanted attention to it. Very much aware of their drug, violence and prostitution issues, the bosses wanted nothing more than to stay out of the public eye. So wouldn’t they assist the police to catch the guy before he attracted even more media attention? Just a thought.
Overall, an amazing thriller. Usually Patterson manages to stump the detective inside of me, I can’t usually pick the killer and I’m always surprised at some big twist at the end. Maybe I’m reading enough of his books that I just knew what to expect this time. There were definitely plot twists, but I managed to guess them all this time round. Which, rather than being disappointing, was extremely satisfying.
I’m becoming more and more addicted to the works of this amazing author, who really is one of the worlds best thriller writers. I can’t wait for the next instalment, due to come out in July.
Recommend it? I sure do
Read before bed? As a general rule with Patterson, always choose daylight. But I read it before bed out of necessity, and survived. Just.
Cry-worthy? Not that kind of book
Re-readable? For sure
Potential to fall in love with characters? I developed a bit of a soft spot for one of them, yes. And I won’t tell you who until you’ve read it
Score /10? A solid 9