I loved this book from when one of the wheeler dealer characters arrives back from London and as he makes his way towards the Beehive muses how he is now “Smack in the centre of power”. This New Zealand is the one emerging from the Panama Papers, the one where politics, big business and the media are in cahoots, and one where something is definitely rotten. This particular rotten conspiracy – Whitehall, Wellington, Paris, Brussels, Baghdad – involves contra contra deals involving oil, money, meat quotas and war crimes. It is wonderfully complex and even more wonderful is that what gets our main protagonists – ex security advisor Sam and ace reporter Lynette – onto the case is the mysterious death of an aspiring writer working after hours in the Auckland University Library. His unpublished manuscript is at the heart of the mystery – his fictionalised version of events too inflammatory to be allowed to get into circulation. Against the power of the written word – the manuscript, Lynette being a journalist and Sam’s reading of Hamlet giving themes to the chapters – is pitted the great repeated phrase: “We all work for the government.” The pace is lively – lively enough to get you over some pretty unlikely scenarios – and the characters refreshing. We read about the looks and style of the men as well as the women, and the main two instigators are flawed and interesting. We get enough tantalising bits of Sam’s back-story to want to read more about him, and get to respect Lynette enough to want her to get working on another story. And as Something is Rotten is the first in the Matakana series by popular novelist Linda Olsson and scriptwriter Thomas Sainsbury, we’re good on both counts.
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