I received an advanced copy Where There is a Will from Hawkeye in exchange for an unbiased review.
Paul, originally French but settled for many years in Australia, is a wealthy, retired businessman. He reads that ‘a massive swell [is] about to hammer Sydney’s beaches’ and sets off with his surfboard to catch some waves. The idea of surfing at all, let alone in a cyclone (a cyclone! Is he mad?!) makes my stomach clench. It’s a strong start to a novel that maintains – indeed ratchets up – the tension throughout.
Of course – of course Paul, I could have told you, it was madness. MADNESS – the worst happens. Paul disappears in the huge waves. Jill, his wife of over 20 years, doesn’t even have his body to mourn.
Paul has always been an adventurer and has left instructions that in the event of his disappearance their four adult Godchildren – go-getting trader Sandra, hedonistic traveller Matthieu, flirtatious fisherman Grant and gentle set designer Brett – should gather together so Paul’s lawyer can reveal something important.
Paul has also requested the presence of a stranger – a young woman from Hobart called Julie. Why is she there? How do this eclectic mix of people fit together? What does Paul want to reveal to them?
Who, above all, is Paul Lambert?
The story of those left behind as they come to terms with the secrets exposed by Paul’s disappearance alternates with the story of Paul’s own journey: he isn’t dead but pulled out of the water and abandoned to his fate with a head injury and amnesia. The police are suspicious. Can he escape them long enough to find out who he is? The journey will take him across Australia and back to his beginnings. Will he like the person he was then? Can he ever
Where There is a Will is a very satisfying, accessible read. The story kept on the right side of credible whilst not being predictable and the revelations kept me turning the pages. I engaged with the trials and tribulations of all the characters, who were well rounded and believable. It felt like being part of a family – if anything, I would have liked a longer novel and a chance to get to know them all better. Most of all, I really wanted Paul to find his way back to Jill without being too changed by his experiences – you’ll have to read the book to find out whether he did.
Technically, I liked the way that the point of view changed in some scenes – sometimes we are close to Paul’s internal thoughts, sometimes we see him from the perspective of people who don’t know him very well: the police, or people in a bar. It adds to the sense that Paul is many things to many people and, together with the vivid descriptions of Australia, means I’m left with a strong visual memory of the story.
I can imagine this as a TV series, and it’s certainly one I would watch.
Read more of Jackie’s Reviews here.
In other news…
The cover of Where There is a Will was designed by Queensland University Technology student, Ellen Milligan, through the Creative Industries Internship program – a program I once traversed through as an editing intern myself. Milligan did an outstanding job of designing the cover. The Director of Hawkeye Publishing, Carolyn Martinez, said that four designers did mock-ups for the book, but it was Ellen’s design that perfectly portrayed the genre.
With Where There is a Will, Steele joins the growing team at Hawkeye – a team establishing itself as a quality ambassador creating opportunities for writers, including with their annual competitions: