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Upshot by John Trigger
From the Dustjacket
In the Supreme Court of NSW, Spencer Barrett - a journalist with a Sydney daily newspaper - watches Bridget Conrad chillingly confess to the murder of her own father.
It is 12th September 2001: the day news reaches Australia of the terror attacks in New York. With the image of the crumbling buildings burnt indelibly in Barrett's mind, he can only shake his head at the words of this beautiful young woman.
But in Barrett's own life, the boundary between right and wrong has become blurred. He feels in himself a sense of power; a potency which does not seem to be acknowledged by the world around him.
Perhaps it is this that draws Bridget Conrad to him, entangling him in a web of crime and deceit.
Publisher : Zeus Publications
First published : 2006
ISBN : 1921118571
No. Pages : 213 pages
Proof that not all quality thrillers have to be produced by a major publishing house, Upshot by John Trigger published by Zeus Publications, is a tightly woven story that opens with a compelling scenario and then proceeds to draw you in deeper and deeper. This is a thriller in which nothing can be taken for granted and reminds us that killers come in many guises. Stretching from Sydney to South East Asia and beyond and subtly affected by the terror attacks that marked us at the time, Upshot is hard edged with a bittersweet center.
It's September 12, 2001 and while the rest of the world watches the events in New York unfold in uncomprehending horror, Spencer Barrett sits in a Sydney courtroom listening to a similarly incomprehensible story. Barrett is a junior reporter with a Sydney newspaper working the courthouse beat and has just heard Bridget Conrad plead guilty to murdering her own father. That such an innocent looking young woman could commit a coldly premeditated murder makes the crime seem all the more shocking.
Having submitted his report of the case, Barrett would have forgotten all about it if he hadn't received a letter from Bridget asking him to come and see her. She tells him of a letter that she had been given by her father's lawyer at the funeral. It was from her father and contained a startling confession that begins to explain to Barrett why Bridget committed such a crime.
Drawn both by the prospect of a story that could finally earn him some recognition and respect as a journalist and the undeniable attraction he has to Bridget, Barrett agrees to help her. The contents of the letter contain a mystery that will take him all the way to the Thai island of Koh Samui where he will meet up with a wealthy businessman by the name of Puna Yomyart. While visiting Thailand, Barrett undergoes a profound shift in his outlook on life, not least brought on by the revelations that Puna has for him.
From this point there is a brief pause in the story that allows Barrett to reassess his life, leaving his job at the newspaper, dropping out of society to travel around Greece and Turkey. But while Barrett's taking his breather, Bridget's life inside takes a turn for the worse seemingly abandoned by Barrett when she needs him most.
She makes her presence felt in the most astonishing of ways, prompting a hell-for-leather race around the world.
There is a quiet desperation about the story, established by both Bridget and Spencer's determined personalities. Firstly, Bridget will let nothing get in her way, sitting in prison or not, to find out who her real father was. That her whole life was based on a lie, the philosophies she adopted from the man she thought was her father, have twisted her into a killer. Then there's Barrett who yearns for acceptance, particularly professionally but also in his personal life, he wants to prove that he's got what it takes to succeed.
Apart from the occasional dialogue exchanges which simply didn't ring true, Upshot flows along smoothly, paced nicely with scenes alternating between Bridget in prison and Spencer outside. This is as much a story of self discovery as it is a complex thriller with Barrett's life profoundly changed by the story's end and as we draw towards its conclusion, be prepared for a touching poignancy.
Spencer Barrett is a man who accepts his flaws. He's aware that he is a restless soul who constantly questions himself, particularly when it comes to relationships, flitting from one to the other with worrying regularity. The same tendency trickles into his professional life and then develops into a wanderlust. He's a man who has been looking to find himself but, until now, never really had a purpose. By the time the story ends he has become an extremely well developed character who has matured before out eyes. Bridget, meanwhile, remains a complete mystery, the tragic figure in the piece.
Upshot proves to be a complex mystery thriller delivering unexpected changes of direction that ensures the storyline is fresh and interesting. The subtle use of real-life events help to shape the direction that Barrett chooses to take his life and consequently, alters the outcome of the book itself. It's a relevant and rewarding novel and deserves to be noticed.
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