Outbreak by Frank Gardner
This biological warfare thriller is written by the BBC’s security correspondent and his first two novels were hugely successful. This new novel starts with three UK scientists caught in a blizzard in the Arctic and they seek shelter in a seemingly abandoned cabin. As they enter the hut, they find a man convulsing and covered in sores. The three scientists are contaminated and within hours the British Government is working hard to identify and contain this deadly outbreak. Is it a secret Russian operation or something even more sinister? Luke Carlton is the MI6 operative sent to investigate and as he and his partner follow leads from Norway to Lithuania, he starts to realise nothing is making sense. The trail leads them back to the UK and then the pressure is on to get to the source of this deadly outbreak. What’s particularly good about this novel is Gardner’s understanding and use of international politics and the real possibility of biological warfare. Coronavirus, monkey pox, bubonic plague … it’s all in here and it all feels scarily real.
Poor People with Money by Dominic Hoey
I loved this raw Kiwi novel that has love and whanau at its heart. Our main flawed protagonist is Monday Wooldridge, who works nights at a seedy bar, spends her days training for kickboxing tournaments, and talking to her younger brother Eddy, who disappeared 15 years earlier. In an effort to make some money, Monday talks her reluctant flatmate JJ into ordering drugs online that she then sells from the bar. When the local heavies move in, Monday and JJ head north to JJ’s hometown, described as ‘the village so small it is not on most maps’. However, it’s hard to stay hidden when your face looks like a broken dinner plate. Dominic Hoey is an award-winning poet and playwright and he showcases beautifully what it means to be poor and struggling, doing whatever you can do to get ahead. This novel captures the heart and soul of a part of New Zealand that we don’t often acknowledge.