No Place Like Home Synopsis:
From bestselling author and award-winning journalist Caroline Overington comes another thought-provoking and heart-rending story, that reaches from the heart of Bondi to a small village in Tanzania.
Shortly after 9.30 in the morning, a young man walks into Surf City, Bondi’s newest shopping complex. He’s wearing a dark grey hoodie – and a bomb around his neck. Just a few minutes later he is locked in a shop on the upper floor. And trapped with him are four innocent bystanders.
For police chaplain Paul Doherty, called to the scene by Superintendent Boehm, it’s a story that will end as tragically as it began. For this is clearly no ordinary siege. The boy, known as Ali Khan, seems as frightened as his hostages and has yet to utter a single word. The seconds tick by for the five in the shop: Mitchell, the talented schoolboy; Mouse, the shop assistant; Kimmi, the nail-bar technician; and Roger Callaghan, the real estate agent whose reason for being in Bondi that day is far from innocent.
And of course there’s Ali Khan. Is he the embodiment of evil, as the villagers in his Tanzanian birthplace believe? Or simply an innocent boy, betrayed at every turn, who just wants a place to call home? (Random House Australia)
Caroline Overington describes No Place Like Home as an unashamed thriller. That description is perhaps intended to explain the lack of artistry in the prose and the relatively simple storytelling style employed, however I think it does somewhat understate the value and power of the message this novel conveys.
Narrator Paul Doherty, formerly a police chaplain, recounts what happened the day of the incident. His meandering narrative of events is supplemented with his opinions of the various people involved, either directly on indirectly, based on his interactions with them and what he’d managed to piece together after the event. Doherty thinks and acts in ways that the reader will not necessarily agree with (or respect), but my observation was that he was as honest with the reader as he was with himself. When stopped by police as he was trying to access the scene of the incident, he thought
Not for the first time, I silently thanked my parents – and maybe God – for giving me such an ordinary-looking, middle-aged Australian man face; I don’t want to sound racist, but I felt sure that I didn’t look like somebody who was about to make trouble.
Overington has populated No Place Like Home with characters that displayed varying degrees of self awareness and ostensibly well-intentioned but in my opinion judgemental, narrow minded behaviour. [Did you see that just there… I am being judgemental classifying someone’s behaviour as narrow-minded… but this is a rabbit-hole one should acknowledge and appreciate, but not fall into I think, because where would you stop?? Is inaction stemming from ambivalence not worse?]
I am fortunate to have enough life experience to know that nothing is ever as black and white as it may appear at first glance; nothing is wholly right or wholly wrong, no person or thing is either good or evil. There are positive and negative components within every situation and our opinions are inextricably linked to our personal experiences.
The thriller is the vehicle Overington uses to presents readers with people and behaviours that we instinctively judge against our own social principles and values we espouse. Like a set of flash cards, the level of difficulty and subtlety in these judgements we are led to making gradually increases to a point where rather than thinking about the answer, the reader begins considering how and whether one should make such judgements.
Overington’s characters are not well realised – they don’t need to be for us to feel entitled to have opinions on them. In this way I think she skilfully highlights how little information is required before assumptions are made and acted upon, and poses the question, is being uninformed sufficient defence for actions that cause harm to others? Even good intentions do not always create good outcomes.
So, while I found the story No Place Like Home by Caroline Overington compelling, I found the act of reading it and exploring my reactions to it much more so.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
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Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller, Crime
Author Information: Caroline Overington is a best-selling Australian author – and an award winning journalist. She’s currently working as the associate editor of the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly. Caroline has previously worked for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and Good Weekend; and The Weekend Australian Magazine.
She is a two-time winner of the Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism; a winner of the Sir Keith Murdoch prize for excellence in journalism; and of the Blake Dawson Prize. In addition to No Place Like Home she has written two non-fiction books and four novels (I Came to Say Goodbye, Ghost Child, Matilda is Missing, Sisters of Mercy, Only in New York and Kickback), all proudly published by Random House in Australia and the UK.
Caroline is the mother of delightful, 13-year-old twins. She lives in Bondi with her family, a blue dog and a lizard.
For more information, check out Caroline’s official website.
* My receiving a copy of this book from Random House Australia did not impact my ability to express my honest opinions in this review.