Chased Across Australia is Reynold Conger’s debut into the literary world, and an admirable job he has done. I have a naturally inquisitive nature, it is one of the reasons that I became a book reviewer, there are nuggets of gold to found in every book regardless of genre. When I read the press release for Chased Across Australia I could not help but wonder why a retired scientist from the Paper Industry who lives in rural New Mexico would write a thriller based in Australia? It seemed strange, fiction writers write fiction, but more often than not they anchor their tales in familiar geographic territory. My thirst for knowledge needed to be slaked, but first, lets talk a little about the book.

The main characters are Jack and Jill Higgins, Jack is a high school teacher with a love for sports, particularly soccer. He is the coach of the high school team, and although the school is a small one and not expected to do well in the New Mexico state championships, do indeed pull off the unexpected, and win the series. Jill Higgins, his wife for almost 30 years is a busy lady in the health care world.

While there is no such thing as a perfect marriage, this is pretty close to it. Wanting to do something special to celebrate their 30th anniversary, they decide on taking a vacation to Australia to visit their son Henry and his wife Gwen who live there. The Higgins are a perfectly unremarkable couple in every way.

Through a strange twist of events, an adverse concatenation of circumstances, they find themselves embroiled in a terrorist plot to explode a dirty bomb in Sydney.

What sets Chased Across Australia apart from the regular action/adventure thriller is the lack of blood and gore. This tactic is one that more authors should take heed of.

Chased Across Australia is in some ways three books skillfully interwoven. On the surface is the action/adventure story of operatives from a shadowy middle eastern terrorist group El Kazar hunting for the Higgins family as they tour Australia. A screw up by an El Kazar member has placed sensitive files on Jack’s laptop, files vital to Operation Kangaroo.

Lurking just under the surface is a rather fun travelogue that explores some of the wonders that Australia has to offer that the average tourist may not know about. This part of the storyline is completely factual and is based on a vacation that Reynold Conger and wife took to visit their son to celebrate their 40 years of marriage.

The third theme is a more personal one and the Dedication page explains it well:

This book is dedicated to my parents and to Grandfather Conger, who jointly saw to it that I was raised in a Christian home and was well grounded in the Christian faith

This sentiment can be found in Reynold Congers writings. In some ways it adds a wonderful depth of field to the book. It rounds the book off in a wonderful way.

For a first time ‘at bat’. I would say that Reynold Conger scores a triple play with Chased Across Australia. It will be interesting to see what his next project will be. One thing I do know is that he has been bitten with the writing bug! I guess it was all of those years working in the science of paper, now he wants to use it.   🙂

To order your copy of this very fine book use the Amazon link above. There is also a website

Simon Barrett

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