When David Cameron (no, not the UK PM) wakes up in a Cairns hospital after six weeks in a coma he learns the woman who pulled him unconscious from a burning car is also the person who brought him out of the coma, using a most unconventional method.
When Noel Valentine, the woman in question, is confronted by David back in her home town of Sydney she buys into his questionable life and ends up over her head in an underworld of double dealing, murder, money laundering and callousness from which it looks very likely she’s not going fight clear from.
Is David Cameron part of the criminal operation or a loner? Is he an assassin or an innocent bystander inadvertently caught in a nefarious web? And is Noel a selfless do-gooder, a manipulative bitch or someone somewhere in the middle?
Amazon review by RD Hale: “Based in Australia, this is a great mystery thriller with a complex cast of characters and cleverly woven plot … Every aspect of this book demonstrates maturity and expertise and I strongly recommend it.”
Amazon review by Thomas Baker, Top 1000 Reviewer: “… an intricate, captivating and engaging thriller right from the first page … teases you and leave you breathless after a thrilling emotional roller coaster ride.”
Amazon review by John L Work: “Alana Woods has written a tale that is filled to the brim with deception, criminal impersonation, betrayal, greed, exploitation, sexual manipulation, murder, and some just plain pretty rotten people … In short, it’s exactly what any card-carrying crime fiction fan is looking for.”
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was working as a publications typist at a weapons research establishment at the time the idea for the novel occurred to me. The documents I was working on were specifications for weaponry parts and I started imagining a scenario where these parts were being put to uses other than what they were manufactured for. Once I had the idea it was a hop, skip and a jump, as they say, from there to conjuring up the how, why, who, what, when and where. And then I would have burst if I hadn’t put it all down on paper.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
To begin with I had the kernel of the story. Hard on its heels came the two main characters and to be honest I can’t tell you how I came up with them. I don’t work at thinking up main characters, they just introduce themselves and there they are, ready and waiting for me to write their story. Secondary characters make themselves known as the story develops.
He sat cross-ankled, arms wrapped around knees, by her towel and robe. From his car he had watched her leave her own and walk down onto the sand. Every movement, from removing the shift to the graceful sway of her hips as she padded to the water’s edge, her pale skin contrasting the black costume, the way she lifted her arms to cover her brown hair with the white swimmer’s cap and goggles—nothing could break his gaze. Not even when he left his vehicle and went to guard her gear.
Twenty minutes later she was crawling back with regular unhurried strokes. The water was calm this morning with rolling humps that retained the surface sheen. Crystal splinters, glittering in the early morning sun, arched rhythmically with each upsweep of her arms. In a direct line with her belongings she halted and without pausing breaststroked leisurely to a point where she could wade. He watched her walk the long stretch over wet sand to dry while removing goggles and cap. When she was ten paces distant he rose to his feet, uncoiling like a diver in reverse.
‘You’re fully recovered then.’
‘Just need the certificate.’ His goose bumps matched hers.
‘No you don’t.’ She fluffed the wet edges of her hair.
‘Who taught you to swim?’
‘He taught you well.’
‘Yes.’ Her eyes had not left his face. ‘Are you going to introduce yourself?’
He handed her the towel. ‘You know who I am.’
She dried her arms. ‘How did you find me? How did you know who I was?’
She was being careful. He nodded, and shoved his hands in his pockets. ‘When you knew me at Darling Harbour it connected. What made you not say anything?’ He was curious, and intent. ‘Do you know who I am? Did you know who I was in Cairns?’
Noel loofahed her back. ‘No, to both.’ She hoped he believed her. ‘Who would I have said anything to?’
‘Why would I have told him?’
Was it all a major coincidence? He formed his question carefully. ‘Why do you think I’m here?’
She opened her mouth but no easy answer came and she shut it. It was harder to act than she thought, standing two feet away from him on a beach with no-one else in sight.
‘I know you know who I am.’ Why was she afraid to admit it?
She flattened her mouth across her teeth. ‘What are you doing here? What do you want with me?’
He didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to walk away. He said the first thing that came into his head. ‘I need a place to stay.’
The swell began to break. A frilled line crept up the wet sand and receded.
‘Is that all? Why me?’
Another wave receded, leaving a foamy broken line.
‘What else would there be? Because I don’t have anywhere else to go; and I don’t want it known I’m here.’ That would test her allegiances. ‘Because you helped me before.’
She prevaricated. ‘How are you going to stay unnoticed?’
She snorted. ‘You’d need to get rid of four inches and put a bag over your head.’ She gave him the towel and bent for the robe. ‘Why are you here?’ She waited.
The towel hung in his hands. ‘I need a place to stay.’
He wasn’t going to tell her. Noel sighed and swung down to scoop up her sandals. She took a step and stopped. ‘There’s risk in this, isn’t there?’
Yes, she thought, but he’s not going to tell me what that is either.
‘Yes. But you’ve already taken one.’
For a moment she wondered what he meant. ‘Uh-uhh,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘Up until now I haven’t been committed.’ And what would I be committing myself too? ‘I’m still not.’
He filled her footprints. The suction marks left by the goggles framed her eyes. Hazel. Topaz with green flecks. The black pupils dilated and closed. The faintest patterning of freckles starred the bridge of her nose. He lifted her hands. Vivid pink marks from recent burns marred to her elbows. ‘I don’t agree,’ he said softly.
Her eyes dropped first. ‘You’re right, of course,’ she said and walked off to her car. Once there she waited for him to follow. ‘I have to go to work. Do you know my address?’
They held the driver’s door between them.
‘Yes. What time do you get home?’
She didn’t query how he knew. ‘Around six thirty.’
‘I’ll be there about seven.’
‘All right,’ she accepted quietly and slid into the seat.
David closed the door and stood watching as she drove away.
Noel’s hands were unsteady as she drove back to Elizabeth Bay. So were her thoughts. Her diary, when she made herself open it later that day, recorded her apprehension.
Hello, I’m Alana Woods, the Intrigue Queen. Why? Because I write thrillers that people say go deeper, are more satisfying and pique their curiosity much more than other thrillers they’ve read. They also say they love my characters because I get into their heads, so by the time they’ve finished reading they feel they really know them. They say the stories and characters haunt them long after they finish reading.
The ideas for my two published thrillers, AUTOMATON and IMBROGLIO, were sparked by jobs I’ve had. IMBROGLIO from several years I spent working as a publications typist at a weapons research establishment and AUTOMATON from five years as a court reporter. And you know what the experts say: write what you know!
I was born in Leicester UK but moved to Australia when I was just four with my family. My father fought in India and Burma in WWII and couldn’t take the cold when he returned to England, so he upped stakes and moved us all to the warmth of Adelaide, South Australia. I now live in Australia’s national capital, Canberra, also affectionately known by the locals as The Bush Capital because it’s out in the sticks and is forested with native eucalypts. It’s a lovely spot.
If you decide to take a punt and read any of my books I’d love for you let me know what you thought by way of a review. I also love to hear personally and you can do that via my website contact page.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!