Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Contract

It's an odd experience to read a book written by someone you know. You look for traces of them in the writing - their personality, the person you're familiar with. And it's scary too. I'm not talking about characters being chased and shot at and other assorted thrills. I mean real danger - what if you don't like the book? It's one thing in a workshop situation, but I'm talking about a published book here. What are you going to tell the author?

Fortunately for me I loved Brett Hoffmann's The Contract.Couldn't put it down in fact.

The book's two main characters, Stella Sartori and Jack Rogers, are Australians living and working in America. They've only met once but now their lives are about to be entwined in ways they couldn't imagine.

Stella has stumbled on a forty-year-old contract that should be of no interest to anyone, but instead leads her into a murky world of deceit and death, where nobody can be trusted and no-one is exactly who or what they seem. When fellow Wall Street banker, Jack, is sent in by their company to exercise some damage control, he discovers more than he bargained for, and soon his life too is on the line. The action moves from place to place and involves, amongst other elements: the FBI, the Mafia, plots old and new, old and new love, a poem written in code, and vast amounts of money.

The writing in a thriller has to be transparent, like a window, not drawing attention to itself but instead getting out of the way of the action. Hoffmann's writing is exactly that. The detail is authentic; the settings obviously well researched. The characters' Australianness gives them a connection with each other (and with me as an Australian reader) but also an outsider status that allows them a sharper view of the society they find themselves in. This added another dimension for me.

Brett Hoffmann is a fresh new voice in international thriller writing. I recommend The Contract. Lucky for me, it's a real page turner. Phew, I don't know about Jack and Stella, but I at least am out of danger!


  1. Can't wait til October when we can be scared! XX

  2. Hey there Viviene, glad to have found you and your love of writing and books. did you know Anne Michaels (she of fugitive pieces fame)has a new book out (its sitting on top of my reading soon pile) It is titled: 'the winter vault' cheers

  3. Great to continue our conversation about books and writing, Petrus. I'll look for that new Anne Michaels book. I still think about some of the images in her novel, Fugitive Pieces.