I found this to be a somewhat surprising book, in that it taught me a lot about New Zealand and, in particular, its devastating drug-culture. This eye-opening indictment was perhaps a little saddening, in the respect that it hits home reading that nowhere is safe from the scourge of class-A drugs – specifically in the case of this book, meth-addiction. Incredibly well-sourced and researched, the fiction is perhaps by the bye, as Almost Persuaded focuses primarily on the country’s cultural and current affairs, using as chronological landmarks two major events which have hit the news in the past decade, from this otherwise relatively under-reported country.
That said, the fiction is good, if its crime aspect is the somewhat formula tale of a reluctant, naive and otherwise law-abiding citizen, who gets entangled in a drug-smuggling operation and the clutches of the law. The real engagement in this book though is the relationship drama which serves as its subplot; I actually found this part more engrossing than the crime story. Indeed, the approaching American Beauty-style midlife crisis of both partners in a childless marriage is indeed what prompts both parties into their drastic life-changing decisions: he to become involved in drug-smuggling; she to cheat, in a very cliched way, with severe consequences. It is fair to say that this book probably falls more into the drama genre than thriller. Its overall menace is low-key and melancholy, rather than action-led. Indeed, when the action does occur, it tends to take the form of street-brawling rather than shootouts, giving Almost Persuaded an air too naturalistic to be considered an outright action thriller.
In the long run, this book doesn’t really hit any dramatic heights in terms of its crime element, nor does it realize the threat which is perhaps implied. This aspect is quite matter-of-fact and under-emphasized, and arguably there is a good deal more emotive expression in the relationship subplots. The grittiness of it, along with the author’s wealth of extremely well-researched information, give it a real authentic feel, and Ferguson presents as a very good, serious, professional author, with a highly conscientious quality. The book is undeniably well-written; some of the dialogue is a tad unnatural, but it is comprehensive, its language clear and articulate. I’m not sure if I saw the relevance of Ferguson’s repeated comparisons to Muslim extremists, except perhaps to give the drug problem scale – however, I think most of us would consider the latter to be by far the bigger social problem, killing people by the millions, if only by proxy. Ferguson is clearly passionate about his writing, and the causes he makes mention of in it – with his research labour ethic and his eloquence as an author, he is an extremely credible one. This is a good book, and recommended for those who like their crime thrillers a little more thoughtful and close to home.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: nigel-c-ferguson drugs crime thriller drama action