Review: Back to the Pilliga by Tony Parsons

@ Goodreads



Title: Back to the Pilliga

Author: Tony Parsons

Published: Allen & Unwin February 2013

Status: Read from February 03 to 04, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy Allen & Unwin}

My Thoughts:

Tony Parsons, OAM, has worked as a professional sheep and wool classer, a journalist, news editor and rural commentator, a consultant to major agricultural companies, and an award-winning breeder of animals and show poultry. It’s this Australian country background that gives his novels, which includes the bestselling The Call of the High Country, their ring of authenticity.

In Back to the Pilliga, Lachlan Sinclair returns to his home town on the North West Plains of New South Wales in pursuit of a young woman kidnapped and held hostage in a violent bank heist. An ex cop turned private investigator, Lachie knows the area well – his family is one of the largest landowners in the area, though he left town as a young man after a bitter confrontation with his father and older brother and has visited only rarely since. With the support of the women’s wealthy mother, and a lot of leeway from the state and local police, Lachie tracks down the robbers in the scrub, planning a daring raid to recover the victim.

With the criminals and their location easily identified there isn’t really a mystery as such for Lachie to solve. Instead his task is to figure out how to safely rescue the hostage. For that he draws on a little subterfuge with the help of a young female detective, whom he quickly comes to admire. The action is short and confined, almost anti-climatic as the focus of the story is instead slanted towards Lachie’s personal life.

Told in the first person with a cadence that identifies the age and background of the character, it took me a little while to get used to the characters voice. Lachie is part outback ‘ocker’ farmer, part noir detective giving him a distinctive personality and manner.

Parsons paints a picture of a man who is quintessentially ‘salt of the earth’ so that Lachie’s decision to trace the missing woman, even at risk to his own life, seems valid. Of course the money her worried mother is offering if he is successful is also tempting, as it will provide him with the means to return to the Pilliga.

Lachie’s journey reveals a feud with his authoritarian father that came to a head with the tragic death of his youngest brother, a broken marriage and an impressive service as a police officer that saw Lachie shot in the line of duty. With his father now gone, Lachie is longing to return to the bush, but his relationship with his older brother, ‘a chip off the old block’ makes the idea of claiming his third of their family property, Kamilaroi, untenable.

Though it was a little rough at the start, I enjoyed Back to the Pilliga as a novel with strong characterisation, and an engaging storyline. What I found most fascinating however is the way in which it compares and contrasts to the many rural fiction novels I have read recently which feature women as the primary protagonist. It’s surprising the way in which they are so similar in terms of themes and plot, but the masculine perspective alters the tone so comprehensively. If you have been reading a lot of rural lit by Australian women authors recently I recommend you read Back to the Pilliga and discover what I mean for yourself.

Available to Purchase

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Via Booko


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