When washed-up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes one morning with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images which come accompanied by horrific nightmares – so he begins to dig deeper. Harry’s search leads him to a sinister disappearance, torment from beyond the grave, and a web of corruption and violence tangled with his own past. One way or another, he has to right the wrongs.
This is said to be horror, in my opinion, it isn’t really horror. I’d call it more of a mystery/thriller with a hint of magic realism.
The plot was interesting and intriguing – it did hold my interest but it wasn’t super gripping. However, I did really want to see how the story played out, there were a few parts where I did find it a bit slow.
Being a mystery kind of story and watching the plot slowly unfold, I think it’s enjoyable at the time of reading but will end up being unmemorable. I think this is the first book in a series? It works well enough as a standalone that I don’t know if I’d read a sequel, I guess it depends if the premise interested me.
Harry: Although I wasn’t super attached to Harry, he was a decent main character. I didn’t love him but he wasn’t boring and I did want to know what was going on with him. He, himself wasn’t overly interesting or a complex character but he wasn’t a bad protagonist.
There was a whole cast of side characters, which I did enjoy their parts and friendships with Harry but again, it was nothing overly great but it was enjoyable at the time.
It’s definitely worth picking up, I overall think it was a good read.
Rating: 3.25 Stars
**Keep reading for an extract!**
The interview turned out to be as superficial as Harry feared. No big surprises. No big scoops. Andrew Cardinal was renowned for his control of information. His background was in army intelligence, after all. All the real stories would be dealt out to the national journalists on the
campaign trail. Vessel talked about his own family but made no attempt to probe Harry about his personal life. There was no doubt that this was all about showing Harry what a great guy he was, how ready he was to help lead the country. But at least Harry had got an interview. It would make a nice page three lead. Front page, if they were desperate.
Harry closed his notebook and smiled.
‘Thanks again for seeing me,’ he said. ‘That just about covers everything for me. Is there anything else you’d like to add?’
He always asked the same closing question. It was one of the few techniques he’d been taught at uni that actually worked in the real world. Harry expected Ron to shake his head, get up, and show Harry out of the office. Instead he paused, shook his head, then took a deep breath.
‘No. But there’s something I’d like to ask you.’
Harry paused, waiting for the punchline. When it didn’t arrive, he shrugged and dropped back into the chair.
‘Oh yeah? What’s that?’
‘Why are you still at the Chronicle?’
Harry opened his mouth. Closed it again.
‘I mean, shit mate. When we first met I was busting my gut on George Street. And now, let’s face it – off the record – I’m about to become Treasurer. And you. You’re still there. You’re polite. You seem bright. Far brighter than some of those dickheads over at the Brisbane Mail. That Terry Redwood wanker, for example. What’s he got that you haven’t got?’
Harry laughed. His face was burning. He remembered being drawn into the story-by-story dogfight with Redwood at uni. He hated himself for it, but Terry really pushed his buttons. At extremely low moments, Harry wondered whether he would have gone ahead with the Cherry Grove story if not for the desperate urge to land a knockout blow on Redwood.
‘I don’t know. You know what happened, right?’ Harry said. When Ron didn’t say anything, he continued. ‘The uni almost got sued. I almost got sued. I had to put my name to an extremely embarrassing apology. And pretty much every door, except this one,’ he threw a hand in the vague direction of his office, ‘closed in my face. Before I even graduated.’
Vessel wiped his mouth. ‘But the story. The story was good. And God knows how an undergrad journalism student got it.’
‘Well, I wish you were there back then to tell the Vice Chancellor that.’
Harry rubbed the back of his neck.
Ron shrugged. ‘Shit happens, Harry. You’ve stewed in purgatory long enough.’
Harry stared down at his closed notebook. This certainly wasn’t what he expected.
‘Harry, why don’t you come on the campaign trail with us?’
‘Because the Chronicle is a local paper. We can’t justify devoting basically half our staff to a federal election.’
‘This isn’t coming from me, Harry. This was Andrew’s idea. He wants you on the bus. Local angle, and all that.’
‘Thanks for the offer, Ron. But I can’t.’
Ron shrugged. He finished the sentence he was typing, then stood up and shook Harry’s hand, over the desk.
‘All the best for the campaign, Ron,’ Harry said.
Harry tried to pull away, but Ron held his hand a moment longer. ‘I mean it, Harry. This shit is beneath you.’
*Thank you to Titan Books for sending me a copy of Strange Ink for review