Skin Deep (Gary Kemble, Echo Publishing)
Harry Hendrick’s girlfriend has left him and his job as a journalist for the local paper is going nowhere. He awakes with the mother of all hangovers and a tattoo he doesn’t recall getting. He could write it off as a wild night but when the tattoos keep coming, accompanied by nightmares and memories that are not his own, he is compelled to find out what’s going on. In his search for the truth, Harry is thrust into a world of corrupt politicians, boat people, SAS missions in Afghanistan, murder, tattoo parlours, bikies, psychics and a mysterious woman. Set on the ‘mean streets’ of Brisbane, Gary Kemble’s debut novel is an imaginative, fast-paced page-turner that combines crime-writing with a delightful serving of the supernatural. Kemble’s other life as a journalist is evident in his writing and his convincingly realistic characters, while topical issues such as asylum seekers and shady politicians are handled deftly and credibly. Skin Deep is a fine debut for both Kemble and Echo Publishing, which offers more than a passing nod to John Birmingham and Stephen King. This novel will appeal to readers who devour crime, thrillers and speculative fiction.
Deborah Crabtree is a Melbourne-based writer and bookseller