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Review: Heist by Robert Schofield

Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen

Gareth Ford has never been perfect. His wife has left him because he can’t make an emotional commitment. Despite a high-paying job his main vices, horses and alcohol, keep him perpetually in debt. And the job is as close as he can get to self-exile. Even so, he would never betray the remote gold mine that he works for. Unfortunately for him, the gang robbing the mine don’t need him to betray it; they just need to make it look as though he has.

Abandoned in the harsh Australian desert, Ford has one goal – get back to his daughter. The one person that he would never abandon. When neither she nor his wife are contactable, Ford realises he has to find people he can trust to get him back to Perth before the gang carry out their threat to harm his family.

Kavanagh, a rogue cop who believes Ford is the fall-guy, and members of a bikie gang being targeted for the robbery, are the only allies he has – even if they’re all involved for their own reasons. With his family on the line, Ford has to take that gamble.

The premise to Heist is solid. The opening scenes are heavy with atmosphere. The isolation of the mine combined with the violent professionalism of the robbery make for a tense beginning and immediate high stakes. The pace is brisk, not getting itself bogged down in backstory, but really immersing readers in the initial pages. While backstory is introduced later, the pace of the novel never really lets up.

The pace, plot and characterisation all draw together to create a compelling novel, but in some ways it’s obvious that Heist is a debut. Everything is a little too much. Ford gets shot, kicked, punched and burned at regular intervals. For recovery he chases a cocktail of drugs down with alcohol – also regularly – and is good to get back in the fray. The stand-offs between Kavanagh and the bikies happen a little too often. The pace is too good for any of these things to be deal-breakers but, in a second or third novel, these aspects would probably be handled with more subtlety.

Characterisation is done well, not just on an individual basis. The mix of personalities forced to work together in the novel makes for some terse moments. If Kavanagh wasn’t on the opposite side of the law to Doc and Banjo, they would probably get along famously. But the nuances between their individuality and their affiliations are at constant odds with each other.

There’s a lot of promise in this series. Some aspects could be honed further, but for a debut novel, it’s immensely readable. Fast-paced, action-packed, with a few sharp twists; Schofield is definitely an author to keep an eye out for.

Heist – Robert Schofield

Allen & Unwin (June 26, 2013)

ISBN: 9781743315200