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The Island


The Island

Adrian McKinty’s THE ISLAND is an outstanding thriller that, much like a film in the same genre, will have readers screaming at the pages as the protagonists get into one predicament after another. As if your shouts could somehow sway them to do the right thing!

In an ominous and brief italicized prologue, we witness a young woman stalking a man sitting on a beachfront with his back to her. He carries an armed rifle, while she shifts back and forth with a machete between both hands. She creeps forward, watching as her shadow threatens to give her away moments before she has an opportunity to act. She sees her chance and raises the blade against him.

"What makes THE ISLAND work so well is McKinty’s superior writing skills. He plants such clever plot devices around Dutch Island that your head will be spinning."

The Baxters are on a business trip/family vacation in Australia. Tom is an orthopedic surgeon who will be speaking at a conference on knee replacements. He is accompanied by his second and much younger wife, Heather, a massage therapist, and his two children, 14-year-old Olivia and 12-year-old Owen. The kids are not thrilled with Heather and are still bitter about the accidental death of their mother, who had MS and died from a fall down the stairs of their house.

Having already seen some of Australia’s major tourist attractions, the Baxters have chosen to spend a few days on remote Dutch Island, which once housed prisoners. They are hosted in a small eco-lodge by the O’Neill family, who inform them that the entire island has only 25 residents or so. The O’Neills also run a full farm that the children are very interested in seeing. They seem friendly enough to their guests --- that is, until the accident happens.

While driving around in their rental car, Tom hits a woman riding a bicycle who appears to come out of nowhere. Their Porsche runs right over her and ends up in a ditch. The young lady is obviously dead, despite Tom’s attempts to revive her. Here the Baxters make the one foolish move that will set forth the course of action that drives the rest of the novel. They decide to hide the body in the brush until they can get to the mainland in Melbourne and inform the police about the accident. They correctly fear that if the close-knit O’Neills were to find out what happened, they might overreact.

The Baxters get on the ferry boat but not before their hosts find the body of Ellen, who turned out to be deaf. The situation is not looking good for Tom, Heather and the kids, who are now taken back to the farmhouse at gunpoint and asked to explain themselves. With their phones and wallets taken from them, they are placed in front of the family matriarch.

Ma hears them out and recognizes that they feel bad about their huge error in judgment. Tom is to go to the mainland and come back with restitution in the form of $500,000. That amount seems to go over well with Ma and her children --- Ivan, Jacko, Brian and Kate --- as well as the most reasonable member of the crew, Kate’s husband, Matt. The problem is that Ma’s other son, Danny, who was married to Ellen, has yet to return home from work and might not react so well to all of this.

Regrettably, the concerns about Danny are understated. He resents his family for swinging a deal in his absence and is outraged by what the Baxters did to “his” Ellen. This leads to Tom being separated from Heather and the kids, who are put back in the shearing shed until the O’Neills can decide what to do with them. They are able to escape thanks to Heather’s quick thinking, but they are still trapped on an island they know nothing about --- and the brutal Australian sun will only make matters much worse for them.

However, the O’Neills don’t realize that Heather was raised on a small island herself by two military parents who trained her very well. This will help her survive and keep her head on straight during these extreme and deadly circumstances. It isn’t long before the O’Neills learn of their escape and try tracking them down with a pack of dogs, leading to a brutal game of cat and mouse.

What makes THE ISLAND work so well is McKinty’s superior writing skills. He plants such clever plot devices around Dutch Island that your head will be spinning. Heather is a tough customer, and one unexpected turn after another will have readers cheering for her to do the impossible in what might end up being the best thrill ride of the summer.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 4, 2022

The Island
by Adrian McKinty

  • Publication Date: June 13, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316531294
  • ISBN-13: 9780316531290