Book Title: ON THE RUN
Author: Colin McLaren
Publisher: Victory Books
No of Pages: 286
Cole Goodwin spent years undercover, infiltrating the Mafia and putting the Australian Godfather behind bars for twenty years. As his team celebrate the 'guilty' verdict, the Mafia are rolling out a vendetta, aided by Cole's corrupt boss. The dodgy Inspector Mack has plans for a prosperous retirement in France, and wants Cole out of his life - fast - as well as collecting a million dollar bonus along the way.
When reading the true crime / memoir INFILTRATION by Colin McLaren, I heard him speak at the Melbourne Crime & Justice Festival. At the time he mentioned he was working on a fictional book, and I've been looking forward to that since finishing INFILTRATION.
Anybody who has read INFILTRATION (or even the blurb) is going to have some bells ringing as they read the synopsis for this novel mind you. That was undoubtedly the oddest experience in reading ON THE RUN. A novel, there are threads, themes and events in this book that do seem to have potential to slot into the true life events of the author from the first book. Which meant that I spent most of the time reading ON THE RUN wondering just how much was truth and how much was fiction. Not to say that ON THE RUN wasn't a darn good fictional book, and it definitely holds your attention regardless of whether you'd read the first book or not!
Cole Goodwin is one of typical Australian laid back, decent sort of blokes. In a tight spot he's very resourceful, quick witted and agile (physically and mentally!) He takes a very wild ride after it becomes obvious that corruption in the ranks of the Australian police is putting him, his nearest and dearest, and anybody unlucky enough to get in the way at great personal risk. Cole flees pursuit from Australia, to New Zealand, in a roundabout way to Europe and ultimately to southern Italy dodging the pursuit; taking the fight into the very heart of the enemy. Meanwhile, in Australia, Cole's closest team members are trying desperately to help.
ON THE RUN is closer to thriller than crime fiction, despite the police setting. Of course it has to be - this is a pursuit novel, the good guy running from (and towards) the bad guys. Will they catch him, or one of his own, before Cole's team can find the truth? Because of that thriller style there are some elements that might seem a little unlikely. Could an undercover Australian cop change identities as rapidly and as freely as Cole does? Could he really flee half-way around the world, albeit with considerable risk, but by the same token quickly / with ease? Would corruption work it's way deep into police hierarchy, and yet so blatantly that not a lot of scratching is required to start to reveal the truth? Mostly the pace of ON THE RUN helps you to roll with the unlikely, accept the seemingly impossible and cheer a bit of bare-chested heroism from time to time.
ON THE RUN is a really interesting first novel from Colin McLaren. There are some components that maybe don't work quite as well as you'd like, but they are quickly overrun by the things that do. And McLaren's not afraid to add a twist in the tail that bites. Hard. Cole Goodwin is a great central character, he's surrounded by an interesting and very realistic team, and you'd have to hope that there could be a hint of more books to come.