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by Caroline Carver
Orion, July 2004
256 pages
ISBN: 0752856995

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

British author and adventurer Caroline Carver is back with her third novel BLACK TIDE. BLOOD JUNCTION and DEAD HEAT, Carver's first two books, established the author as adept at producing excitement. Now India Kane, Carver's part aboriginal journalist protagonist, is back in action, risking her life for her friends once again.

The novel begins with a prologue, as has become Ms Carver's custom. Aboriginal Albert Jimbuku is laying a curse on a new housing development in Western Australia. He allows himself to be chased from the land by a member of the powerful family responsible for the development but mutters, ominously "Jambuwal will wreak his vengeance." as he departs, having spurned a bribe to "sort something out." I have to admit, however, that no aborigine in my limited acquaintance has ever expressed himself in quite such terms.

India Kane is on Greenpeace's vessel Sundancer, writing a piece for her employer, the Sydney Morning Herald. One night, the Sundancer is rammed by a mystery vessel in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean as the crew stalk a Japanese whaling factory ship. India's friend Ned is killed but India manages to save the life of fellow smoker Katy. They are rescued by the crew of the Japanese ship while the mystery boat makes good its untrammelled escape.

The journalist decides to try to uncover the identity of the callous craft. Despite the pleas from her lover Mikey, whom she met in the first novel, and their adopted daughter, aboriginal Polly, India returns to Western Australia to pursue her quest. She discovers that a powerful family, the Zhuganovs, are in some way enmeshed in some nefarious dealings which are advanced by having a network of relatives highly placed in all aspects of Western Australian society.

Of course, this author is profligate in the shedding of lives and limbs in her story. India is able to uncover the secret of the curse which has affected the housing development as well as attempt to wreak her own vengeance on the people behind the callous wrecking of the Sundancer. Mikey and Polly are given what amounts to only cameo roles -- a shame, as Polly proved an engaging character in the first work, BLOOD JUNCTION.

Carver's writing has improved. She has toned down the aggressively Ocker idiom which she attempted, with some lack of success, in BLOOD JUNCTION. The ecological theme is rather more convincing than that which motivated the baddies in DEAD HEAT although I feel it could do with a few more legs to make its run completely successful.

Her attention to detail seems to have improved, too, which always adds to the success of a narrative. It would be interesting to see the author pen a standalone novel and I, for one, would like to see her set a book in her native country but I assume she is happy to continue penning the perils for her protagonists in her gradually more realistic version of Australia.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, October 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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