A review by Nalini Haynes
four and a half out of five stars
Previously published in the US in 2007 under the title Killing the Rabbit, Clan Destine Press published A New Kind of Death in Australia for the first time in 2012.
A New Kind of Death is set in Australia in 2008, 10 years after Hannie Reynard graduated from film school and Mosson Ferret opted out in favour of securing a paycheck. Hannie has mismanaged her grant – defrauding the IFF – and now Mosson is auditing her.
Mosson has had ten years of frustration as the numbers man while allowing his creative talent to wither from lack of use. Mosson wants another chance at creativity so he blackmails Hannie into allowing him to work on her film.
The Forecaster is a Japanese businessman whose entire life revolves around the company, living and working in Harare, Zimbabwe, while his wife and son live in Japan. The Forecaster develops a 200 year plan that could make a fortune for the company if the contraceptives market remains stable. Research revealed a rare genetic strain developing in some women who absorb their babies back into their bodies either at will or when under stress; this threatens the profitability of the contraceptives market.
A devotee of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the Forecaster hires a hit man to kill these women so they cannot breed, spreading this gene and thereby reducing the need for contraceptives across the board.
Trojan, the hit man, is a former Vietnam veteran who has spent decades working as a hired assassin. Well past his prime and suffering the results of a lifetime of murdering people, Trojan doesn’t see any option but to continue working. He takes the job.
Notably everyone in Death has vulnerability of some kind.
Hannie suffers from Crohn’s disease (a bowel disorder); her response to her illness and the graphic descriptions of her suffering are realistic.
Mosson lost nearly all his body hair as a child, suffering the taunts and assaults of children as he learnt to fight for survival. Rejected by his mother’s Japanese family and his father’s Australian parents, Mosson is nearing forty, orphaned, childless and looking for a connection.
The Forecaster’s ambitious but distant wife is his Achilles’ heel.
Trojan suffers the shakes after and sometimes during a murder. Trojan created a family of sorts that is falling apart.
Each of these characters tells the story from their point of view in the third person except – surprisingly – Trojan, who has a first person point of view. Gradually a story evolves with shades of grey, layers and levels of deceit and corruption. No-one is innocent; everyone has a price to pay.
A short novel at 333 pages, A New Kind of Death is a fast-paced action-packed thriller. The various points of view weave together, building suspense. Key points were resolved in the conclusion while loose ends leave the reader imagining futures for those left alive.
I highly recommend A New Kind of Death.
The previous best story I’ve read about a person with Crohn’s was The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Miller, a delightful comedy with gritty realism for depth. I highly recommend both novels to those who are coming to terms with Crohn’s, their families and friends.