Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Redback by Lindy Cameron

Book:  Redback
Author:  Lindy Cameron
Publisher:  Clan Destine Press

According to Paul Erdős, any set of five points in the plane in general position has a subset of four points that form the vertices of a convex quadrilateral.  In the dark and edgy world of discrete geometry, this devious little theorem is known as the Happy Ending Problem.  It looks a bit like this:

 Spellbinding, isn’t it?

Okay, maybe not, but the reason I bring it up is because Lindy Cameron’s globetrotting action adventure, Redback, nimbly manages to illustrate this particular theorem through the tapestry of a wild, fast-paced, in-your-face romp seemingly and frighteningly plucked straight from recent headlines. 

Commander Bryn Gideon and her highly trained, privately funded Redback Retrieval Team rescues thirty-six hostages, including Prime Objective, Dr. Jana Rossi, from a ragtag yet high-tech band of Pacific Island rebels. Meanwhile, author and freelance journalist, Scott Dreher, who is researching computer war games as a recruiting tool, stumbles across an altered copy of a popular video game that hints of disturbing connections between homegrown and international terrorist groups, government agencies, and arms dealers. Thus begins a harrowing journey around the world, where unrelated ritualistic killings, a bomb on a passenger train in Luxemborg and another in a Dallas parking garage, a bizarre political assassination, a rocket attack on Ft. Hood, the bombing of the American Consulate in Peshawar, and the murder of an expat hippie in Mexico combine to signal the emergence of a new and diabolical enemy even more clever, devious, and deadly than Al Qaeda. 

The good guys happily prevail, and the adventure is smartly concluded with a banner that scrolls, “They all lived happily ever after” as the theme from Jaws (Duh dun. Duh dun. Duh dun. Duh dun.) swells and the credits roll.

The beauty of Redback is that it’s yet another quality entry into lesfic’s newest genre’ where sex and romance are not the driving forces behind the story.  Instead, we’re treated to equal parts political thriller, action adventure, mystery, and intrigue – all of which just happen to be topped off with a studly butch with a gun and her brainy sidekick.   

Who, coincidently, reminded me of a modern day, Season 1, Xena and Gabrielle.  Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.  Eh, either way, it’s not the focus of the larger story.

I appreciate what Ms. Cameron has done with the lengthy cast of characters, all of which had roles in advancing the story:  The women of Redback are all strong and well written, even the female mercenary with the ass tats.  The men of the Redback Team are great guys and solid comrades.  The terrorists are appropriately evil.  The spooks are singularly focused on their individual missions.  The politicians are smarmy.  And, the computer guys geek out.   Even the bit characters had a purpose and function.  None of this was easy, given the sheer volume of characters populating the Redback landscape.

I also appreciate the amazingly intricate plot that worked its way through seemingly unrelated stories and brought everything to a heart pounding head.  The reader travels to a Pacific Island, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Mexico, the USA, England, France, Luxemburg, Pakistan, and a few other spots of intrigue. We’re treated to the camaraderie of the Redbacks, the absurdity of some of our past and present political figures, and more than a few people who actually want to do the right thing for the right reasons.

If there is even the smallest hiccup in Redback, it is that the Americans (for which I feel somewhat qualified to speak) all spoke with a bit of an Aussie accent.  As an American though, I sheepishly must admit that American authors have penned the majority of fiction on my bookshelves.  And, as I say this, I can’t say one way or another whether American authors paint characters of other nationalities with American linguistic traits. 

More than likely so, which is why I  . . . ooh, look.  Isn’t that Salman Rushdie in a pair of pedal pushers?

Joking aside, Redback is a great story populated by interesting characters, feats of kick-ass derring-do, dastardly, evil intent, and tickety-boo.  It’s smart, well written, funny, and the perfect launching pad for a new series.  Lindy Cameron has put this band of Aussie heroines and heroes on the map, and has made me itchy for more. I’m excited about getting my hot little hands on the sequel, Trapdoor, which is currently being written.  

I’m giving this action-packed tilt-o-whirl a 5.2 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.  Lindy Cameron deserves a spot on the bookshelf of the discerning lesfic reader looking for just a little more.


  1. Sigh. Another great review. You know, don't you, that every time you post a review I shell out another $15 - $20 ? You should get a kickback! Thanks, Salem. This looks like a fun read.

  2. Shhh! No one is supposed to know about my evil plan to slowly redirect the world's wealth one review at a time. Seriously, Baxter, I think the blame should be plopped smack-dab on the shoulders of all the authors out there. If you folks would just stop writing good books, that pesky little problem would eventually solve itself. Just be forewarned, if you do stop writing, I will hunt you down and whine in a high-pitched singsong voice until you start writing again just to shut me up. Always there, every freaking moment.

  3. This is the sort of book you purchase in an airport, get halfway through and leave in the seat back pocket. Poorly written rubbish.