Publisher: Impact Press
Publication date – 18 June 2018
From former politician Richard Evans comes one of the most incredible fictional examinations of the Australian political system with Deceit, an exciting and superb political thriller.
When corrupt Australian Prime Minster Andrew Gerrard makes a deal with his Indonesian counterpart, he embarks on a plan to build up a retirement nest egg by passing a controversial funding bill for overseas detention centres over a period of several years. However, when key members of his party die in a tragic plane accident, Gerrard decides to process all of the funding in one go and receive the full amount of his payoff.
Outnumbered in the House of Representatives, and with only one week to pass the bill through both houses of parliament, the task looks impossible. But the Prime Minister is a canny political operator with no conscience to speak of and with the Speaker deep in his pocket and with no conscience to speak off. Equipped with a master plan, Gerrard starts to manipulate the bill through parliament.
The only person who may be able to stop him is the outgoing Clerk of the House of Representatives, Gordon O’Brien, who suspects that the Prime Minister’s mysterious last-minute bill is more sinister than it appears. As one of the few people who believe in the sanctity of the parliament, O’Brien will risk everything to find out the truth and ensure no wrongdoing is done on his watch. Utilising all the tools at his disposal, including the opposition and investigative journalist Anita Devlin, O’Brien prepares to move against the Prime Minister. Let the political games begin!
Evans is a former Australian politician who served two terms as a federal member of parliament in the 1990s. Evans has decided to utilise his political experience and expertise by creating a series of Australian politics based thrillers and dramas, with several books planned for release in 2019 and 2020. Deceit is his debut novel and the first book of his planned Democracy trilogy, with the second book in this series, Duplicity, already set to be released in 2019. Readers interested in fictional depictions of Australian politics should also keep an eye out for his upcoming Referendum and Jack Hudson series, both of which will start to be published in the next two years.
Deceit is a fabulous political thriller with a fantastic story that twists and turns through multiple layers of manipulation, deceptions, lies and double-crosses. The book’s main antagonist, Australian Prime Minister Andrew Gerrard is a selfish, manipulative and sleazy character who serves as a perfect villain for this story and whose plots are a highlight of this book. Evans has done a clever job of spreading the story out among multiple point-of-view characters, as this allows the reader to view the impact of Gerrard’s manoeuvrings and lets them see how they are received by members of the opposition, the media and O’Brien. Evans is a very talented storywriter, and the entire plot of Deceit is extremely compelling and very well thought out. Readers will fall in love with this amazing story and will find its overall conclusion very satisfying.
As someone who lives and works in the book’s main setting, Australia’s capital city, Canberra, I have received a lot of exposure to Australian politics. As a result, I loved the author’s exceedingly realistic and accurate depictions of the Australian political system and how it was used within this story. There is some great coverage of Australia’s parliamentary procedure and the creation and passage of bills and laws through both houses of parliament that are presented in a precise and well-described way. There are also a number of characters who hold roles that are actually part of Australia’s political and civil service. These positions and roles are explored in detail, and the reader is given significant insights into what work and requirements are needed by the people holding them. Evan’s does a fantastic job of weaving these usually dry subjects into a very enthralling narrative, and readers will be intrigued to see how the fictional Prime Minister plans to get a dodgy bill past the entire country without anyone noticing what he is doing.
The standout scene of the book has to be an extended chapter that featured a session of question time in the House of Representatives. Question time is a daily occurrence during the parliamentary sitting period during which government and non-government members of parliament ask ministers questions about their various portfolios. As someone who has been exposed to many question times, I was struck by how genuine Evans’s description of this event was. Evans perfectly encapsulates the entire process from start to finish and was able to recreate the snarky and sometimes petulant nature of the discourse that are the usual fare of question time. The author expertly links the overarching storyline of political corruption into this scene, as one member of the opposition is suspicious and starts to ask the Prime Minister leading questions about the controversial bill he has put forward. The political back-and-forth around these questions was amazing, and it was fascinating watching them being tied into the rest of the story. Overall, this sequence was exceedingly compelling, and the entire time I was reading it I was physically incapable of putting the book down.
Deceit also contains some detailed and enjoyable depictions of Australia’s Parliament House and the capital city, Canberra. Parliament House is a beautiful building, and Evans does a wonderful job describing Parliament House in detail and examining various parts of the building, from the Prime Minister’s office and courtyard, to the various gardens, media offices and even cafes. Other little nuances of life within Parliament House are also captured within the text, no doubt because of Evans’s prior experiences working within the building.
I also really enjoyed seeing my home city of Canberra featured in this book. Despite being the capital city, Canberra does not feature much in fiction, due to it being a smaller and newer city than Sydney or Melbourne. Deceit, however, contains some great depictions of the areas of Canberra close to Parliament House. There are several references to some real restaurants and cafes that politicians are known to frequent and where several big political discussions are known to have taken place. There are also several scenes where the characters explore other parts of Canberra as part of the book’s plot. I for one found it incredibly amusing and disconcerting to read a scene about a secretive handoff of documents set in a cinema that I’ve watched The Hunger Games and Doctor Who specials in. Canberra locals will love seeing their city as a major fixture of this book, and other readers will get to explore Australia’s capital and see its potential as a setting in this exciting thriller.
Richard Evans’ first book, Deceit, is a five-star thriller that brings the Australian political process to life. Former politician Evans brings all of his insight and expertise to this new book, and readers will be astounded by the realistic descriptions of Australian politics and the way it has been utilised in this exciting and first-rate story. This is an outstanding debut from Evans, and this terrific read comes highly recommended.