This book starts with the somewhat profound line “Forgiveness is the most attractive of the virtues. Until you actually have someone to forgive.” In these two sentences, Martin Roth sets up, at the very beginning, a theme that will carry through the book. The protagonist in this story is not your average detective. He is a former freedom fighter from East-Timor, and an illegal immigrant into Australia. Johnny Ravine has seen a lot of pain and suffering in his past – most at the hands of the Indonesian Militia. He has set himself up as a private investigator in the city of Melbourne.
When his best friend, a recent and passionate convert to Christianity is found murdered in one of Melbourne’s brothels, with a page from the Bible in his mouth, Johnny knows he has a personal case on his hands.
As he begins to investigate, it quickly becomes apparent that this case has links back to Johnny’s own past in East Timor.
This book does very well as a stand-alone story, but at the same time, it establishes a fascinating character with a lot of sequel potential. There is a lot of potential for Johnny to have an ongoing character arc, as he is trying to locate his father – a man he has never met.
This book starts out like a fairly traditional mystery. There is a crime that must be solved. But as the story progresses, it becomes more of a thriller. The result is an exciting tale that moves at a fast pace.
The book’s setting is refreshingly Australian, but at the same time, some Americanised words are used in places which will make it more accessible to international audiences. For example, the books mentions ‘cell phones’ rather than ‘mobile phones’ and ‘trunk’ rather than ‘boot’.
This is an edgy book that I believe will appeal to a wide range of readers, not just Christians.