This is a seemingly dramatic departure from Adrian McKinty’s usual books but he pulls it off marvelously. Based on a true story McKinty heads to the South Pacific circa 1906 to tell a tale of mad Germans, sun worship and possible murder.
Will Prior, is an ex-English lieutenant who finds himself in German New Guinea after the horrors of the Boer War. As an ex-military policeman he is asked by local authorities to investigate the strange death of a man from a neighbouring island where a new, cultish society is trying to establish itself. Calling themselves ‘cocovores’ they believe that sun worship and a diet of coconuts will lead to immortality. Will’s investigation is quickly stonewalled by a group under the influence of more than just the sun and tropical fruit and he must tread carefully if he wishes to ever leave the island in one piece.
McKinty has obvious fun telling this story. Coming off the brilliant Sean Duffy series was always going to be a challenge and going outside his usual zone is a stroke of brilliance. There is a real 19th century flare to McKinty’s writing and characters in this novel and the atmosphere he creates on the island of Kabakon, which the ‘cocovores’ inhabit, bubbles away nicely with a sinister air never too far away. The combinations of malarial fever and heroin induced dreams also means the lines between sanity and insanity intertwine until the truth of what really happened on Kabakon is possibly indeterminable.
This may not appeal to all the Adrian McKinty fans but I think it is going to win him a few new ones.