Thank you Ariel for such a great review of Thirst

July 30, 2012

‘Thirst’ is an all-action, Ludlumesque thriller…an electric all-nighter supercharged with intellectual energy. Larkin pulls you along at such a murderously frenetic pace that you begin to fear cessation; the suspense is inherent to the isolated setting- the vast silent vulnerable Antarctica. And its genuine terror you feel- of falling off this ride into the unknown.
As the author’s namesake Philip Larkin put it: ‘Nothing, like something, happens anywhere, anytime’.
When Marquez begins ‘100 Years of Solitude’, Colonel Buendia faces that very void courtesy of a firing squad, and reminisces about first discovering ice. Similarly, and chillingly, in ‘Thirst’s opening Mac discovers ice as his body bounces off a ledge ‘into the blue void’. Larkin also gives a nod to two of the best thriller writers in their prime when she was born- Alistair Maclean and JGBallard. The former had his eco-political antagonists maneuvering soldiers and glaciologists on and under the Arctic ice, while the latter’s vision of a Drowned World (due to melting ice caps) is the blueprint for ‘Thirst’.
Like Ballard, Larkin takes an aspect of how we treat the planet, and ourselves (both authors use ultra-obsessive characters), and hyperextends consequences towards apocalypse. These huge glaciers holding back ice sheets like that bordering the Amundsen Sea (the melting of which would lead to catastrophic sea level rises) are literally and metaphorically shielding us all from that ‘blue void’. It’s an appropriately fragile scenario unfolding, and I couldn’t but think of Coleridge:

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!
This makes for great fun and nerve-wracking suspense, but not like the ironic hijinks in John Birmingham or Matthew Reilly this case the stakes are just too high. As such, our hero Luke Searle has the backing of good science in his battle with the villainous eco-fanatics( as did the sharp Serena Swift in Larkin’s first blockbuster, ‘The Genesis Flaw’). But can reason and courage win out? When the Australian base Hope Station is lost, is all hope?
In any case, this novel is a clever counterpoint to US climate novels like Michael Chrichton’s infamous ‘State of Fear’, and if it is true that we ‘read in quest of a mind more original than our own’, as Harold Bloom surmises, then ‘Thirst’ is an unqualified success.

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Book review of Michael Robotham’s Say You’re Sorry

July 27, 2012

Say You’re sorry is a harrowing, confronting tale, that will haunt you long after you have finished the book.

‘The Bingham Girls’, as they are called by the media, are Piper Hadley and Tash McBain. When the story begins, they have been missing for three years and the police stopped looking for them long ago assuming they ran away and may even be dead. The reader knows from the opening chapter that they have been prisoners for three years, at the mercy of a brutal and sadistic man who is known only as George, and Tash has managed to escape, but we don’t know if she is alive or dead. Piper tells their story as if we are inside her head, but it is suggested that these glimpses of their ordeal are also written in her dairy. But we only get random insights into what has happened to them and the most critical memory – the night they were abducted – is left to the very end of the book so as not to spoil the startling revelation. Robotham skillfully keeps you guessing right to the very end about the villain’s identity, and like the hero, Joe O’Loughlin, we make several incorrect assumptions.

What makes this story so compelling is the voice of Piper Hadley, the eighteen year old victim. Her reactions to the situation and her captor are complex and entirely believable; Robotham has clearly got into the head space of teenage girls. Charlie, Joe O’Loughlin’s petulant and sharp-tongued daughter is every bit a realistic painful yet vulnerable teenager, but considering the horror that Charlie has been through in a previous book (Shatter) it’s amazing she hasn’t gone completely off the rails. Father-daughter relationships are very much a theme of this book: O’Loughlin’s awkward relationship with Charlie, the very different fathers of the two missing girls, the over-controlling father of the girls’ friend, Emily, and so on.

Tash McBain, Piper’s flirtatious, beautiful and rebellious friend who, at fifteen, torments men and boys with her sexuality, is the cause of a fight between two boys, which leaves one in a wheelchair for life. She appears callous and oblivious to the pain she causes. The men who assault Tash believe she gets what she deserves, echoing the age old cry that a whore who is raped and murdered, deserves no sympathy. But sympathy is absolutely what you feel for Tash as you learn more about her ordeal, and utter loathing for the men who brutalise her.

Apart from his intriguing plots, I love the fact there is no simple way to regard his central characters. Even the good guys are very flawed, such as DCI Drury. He’s a married man having an affair. He gave up searching for the girls years ago. He decides Augie Shaw is guilty and ultimately is responsible for what happens to him. As you would expect in crime fiction, there is lots of tension: not just because of the ticking clock as we fear Piper will not survive, but tension between O’Loughlin and Drury, tension between O’Loughlin and his daughter and so on.

I am delighted to say that Vincent Ruiz is in this novel and adds his magic touch of dry humour. But O’Loughlin is most definitely the hero of the story and is forced to do something at the end which he abhors. I have to say I am surprised it took him so long, but he does it, and, as a result, there is hope for both him and for Piper.

This is a cracker of a thriller!

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Avid Reader, Brisbane – in conversation with ABC RN’s Kate Evans

July 26, 2012

Be part of a studio audience! This event will be recorded for ABC Radio National.

Kate Evans, presenter of Books+ on ABC Radio National, will be interviewing me at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane, on 17th August at 6pm. I will be joined by two awesome authors – Katherine Howell and Lindy Cameron – who will do a reading from their latest novels.

Tickets $5 RSVP essential
6.00 for a 6.30pm start
Bookings: 07 3846 3422 or

This recording airs on Saturday 18th August:

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Sydney launch of Thirst at Ariel Bookshop, Paddington. Come along and celebrate!

July 24, 2012

I am so looking forward to celebrating the launch of my Antarctic thriller, Thirst, at Ariel Bookshop in Paddington on 1st August. I would love you to join me for a glass of wine or beer or three! I will talk about my Antarctic adventures and the story behind the writing of Thirst. To research this novel, I travelled to Antarctica on a former Russian oceanographic research vessel, learned about crevasse rescue and even how to sew up a wound.

I am very proud to say that Thirst has been described as “The best Antarctic thriller since Ice Station.” James Phelan.

Address: Ariel, 42 Oxford Street, Paddington

Date: Wed 1st August

Time: 6-8 pm

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Come to the Melbourne launch of “Thirst” at Readings, Hawthorn

Icebergs and bullets!

@ Readings Hawthorn 6 for 6.30pm Thursday 2 August

“The best Antarctic thriller since Ice Station.” James Phelan.

Hear L.A. Larkin talk about her adventures in Antarctica and her latest thriller, Thirst (Murdoch Books/Pier 9, out August), in conversation with Sisters in Crime national co-convenor, Carmel Shute.  Set in Antarctica, an Australian team is being hunted down by a mercenary foe. Can maverick glaciologist, Luke Searle, stay alive long enough to prevent a global catastrophe? Time is running out.T minus 5 days, 2 hours and 53 minutes … To research Thirst, L.A. Larkin, went to Antarctica on board a former oceanographic research vessel. She got to know a Melbourne-born expeditioner and Joan Russell, one of the first female leaders of an Australian station. She worked closely with the Australian Antarctic Division and British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK, learning about crevasse rescue, polar medicine, polar equipment and survival. She even learned how to sew up a wound!John Birmingham says of Thirst, “Action that hits like an icepick in the back of the head”.

Readinsg Hawthorn, 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn. Free, but please book on 9819 1917 or via

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