By David Palmer
This book is a mystery thriller – on two levels – gripping thriller on the surface, intellectual challenge underneath.
New Zealand garbage collector, Farrari Auva’a, is drawn by a letter uncovered in rubbish, into a mystery full of suspense and intrigue. There are murderers and manipulators, professors and businessmen, and it takes him across the world through plane rides and peaceful countryside, car chases and awe-inspiring historical sites. On the surface.
Underneath, though, is the mystery of personal identity in a time of change. This is highlighted in several of the characters but particularly Ferrari, as they search themselves and their family relationships, their cultural ties, career paths and spirituality.
Author, David Palmer, has used his other interests – in war and history – to tie all of these together with the thriller narrative, and maintain the thread of refuse.
The combination of Stranger in a Strange Land and Hero’s journey works well, though I occasionally felt the need for an easier transition from high drama to contemplation. While I’m sure the details of the ancient codex were vital to the narrative, I have to admit to skipping a few pages in my urge to see what the thrilling outcome would be. It’s as if Palmer invited his readers onto the journey with him and stands beside them as reader and writer. Some of his descriptions are incredibly evocative …”A scalloping of wastewater stain rosettes on the carpet pile failed to conceal a floral design evoking a more gracious age”, for example…but this one went a bit beyond that “They followed a haze-abraded plain chitinous with industrial pullulations.” I must say it got my attention!
This sort of language, though, becomes part of the mysterious undercurrent -which in turn highlights the intuitive problem-solving amid rationality in the upper level of mystery.
I just hope there is a sequel where we see more of the mystery that is the multidimensional Ferrari, and of the beautiful culture and countryside that is his New Zealand.
Your Story Matters at PivotalBookClub.com