shared some information about a debut New Zealand thriller I'd come across, MILKSHAKE by Matt Hammond. The book, which seemed like something of a global conspiracy thriller, set right here amongst the forests, dairy pastures, and small towns of Aotearoa, was available in a variety of ebook formats from Smashwords (a site I've come to quite like, in terms of discovering lesser-known authors), and in Kindle format from Amazon (US$0.99), and is now also available in hardcopy/paperback format from Amazon. Here's the blurb:
On the day David Turner is supposed to emigrate to New Zealand, he witnesses a savage murder and becomes caught up in ruthless global conspiracy. A thirty year-old technological discovery threatens his own future and jeopardises the lives of millions of others as David discovers that starting a new life is about to become a deadly game of cat and mouse... and, somewhat surprisingly, cows.
The early reviews on Smashwords and Amazon have been very positive - although you always need to take those with a grain of salt - but the premise of New Zealand being unwittingly used as a testing ground for a dangerous new biofuel, and an ordinary man being unwittingly caught up in a multinational global conspiracy laced with politics, spies, environmental activists, and more, certainly had me intrigued. So I've decided to give the debut thriller a go myself, and have been reading it this week.
I'm about 60 per cent of the way through, and so far am quite enjoying it (and it's growing on me as I go). There is a good narrative drive, and plenty of action - but sometimes the writing isn't as smooth as some crime fiction fans might like. A little too much exposition and 'telling' (sometimes repeatedly - which is a pet peeve of mine, but doesn't bother some other readers as much), and Hammond seems to feel the need to regularly remind the reader of the situation the protagonist, David Turner, finds himself in (a bit too much 'spelling it out'). But despite some irritating flaws - which in all honesty aren't unexpected for a debut book that hasn't come through the editing process of a major publisher - I am still finding myself compelled to keep turning the pages. Hammond has brought together some really good ideas and interesting concepts, and also shows a nice turn of phrase and descriptive passage now and then, in amongst all the action, with some good 'visuals'. I'm certainly intrigued, or hooked, to find out how it all comes together. And whether my home country will just become a testing ground for fuel-hungry Americans.
It's a good solid debut, that might have moved into the very good/great category with some tighter editing. In all fairness, there are plenty of big-name, hugely popular bestsellers that suffer from the same flaws - plot and action-centric conspiracy thrillers where the writing is a little 'on the nose' (eg Dan Brown etc). So I imagine many, many people would enjoy MILKSHAKE, which is entertaining and interesting. I am looking forward to seeing whether the final third moves my final the book up or down in my estimation.