THE Bully Book Club has published it's first book review. Rob Hughes has reviewed Heist by Robert Schofeild, an Australian author.
Perth author Robert Schofield's Heist is an excellent read. It engages the reader from the first sentence, maintains the interest until the final scene, and should appeal to readers of crime fiction.
The 'heist' of the title is the stealing of eight gold bullion bars from a Western Australian mine. Site engineer, Gareth Ford, is framed as an inside man for it. His journey to free his name involves bikies, mercenaries, good cops as well as corrupt ones, and a fragile alliance with Viper bikies Doc and Banjo.
Numerous confrontations, chases and shootouts occur. Indeed, Ford almost seems to have a charmed life for a 'patsy'. He is in pain as a result of inflicted injuries most of the novel, and his wise cracks seem to invite this. However he becomes more endearing to the reader, and we follow his exploits with concern. The settings impact directly on the plot, ranging from isolated gold mining sites, police stations in isolated towns, isolated goat tracks, and pubs and a brothel in an isolated town… you see the underlying commonality here. Schofield obviously knows these sites, developing them vividly and simply. Perhaps it takes a 'new' Australian to present them so well.
Deeper themes are addressed in the text also. These include the relationships with his ex-wife and daughter; the interaction between cops and law-breakers; the laws to outlaw bikie gangs; as well as the need for police to be honest and principled. The ethics of the media and the operation of business also come in for a serve, with reporters fighting subserviency to their ownership, and company CEO McCann misleading the public in establishing future ore deposits.
Characterisation is concise. Ford is a strange hero. An alcoholic, computer savvy loner, he antagonises others with his attitude and quips. The author seems to draw on his own experiences and knowledge of people to flesh out his hero. There is a tentative relationship which develops between good cop Kavanagh and Ford, but they are loners, and unlike popular fiction, you know nothing will come of it. Help comes to Ford from unlikely sources. Doc and Banjo are tough, tenacious, tattooed bikies, sceptical of Ford initially, but drawn into his protection despite their scepticism and mistrust of the accompanying cop, Kavanagh. There is a certain irony in the character Banjo quoting Henry Lawson and expounding on his attitudes about AB Paterson in the text.
The blurb on Schofield indicates he received a Cambridge engineering degree, working in the UK before coming to Australia and adapting his skills to the mining and off-shore industries in Western Australia. His knowledge of mining and operations shows. One might speculate that our author knows Ford intimately, indeed characteristics of the two appear similar. But this is not a bad thing. An author draws on what they know to engage a reader, and Schofield does this well.
This is a creditable first novel and well worth the read.