8 Hours to Die
After a late June electrical storm—brief and spectacular—the sky was a clean, washed-out blue, so pristine it was hard to imagine where all that rain had come from. It was warm and snug inside the car. Columns of peeling gum trees crowded both sides of the road; whole battalions of cockatoos and galahs perched in the trees and on the grass alongside the road.
Few other cars, however. Not one, in fact, in either direction. Situation normal in these parts.
Hordes of stationary birds. No cars. A sci-fi movie scenario, where one might be abducted by aliens. Or one of those deserted interstate highways in an American road movie, disappearing for hundreds of kilometres into an empty, and maybe threatening, wasteland ahead.
Tim Fontaine’s gaze was fixed on the broken white line forever rushing towards him. The Kluger’s heavy-duty Kumho tyres sang a high note on the smooth bitumen of the Monaro Highway. Alongside him, his wife, Amy, dozed like a contented newborn, her soft face nestled into a pillow set against the window. He could see her breath misting up the glass.
Tim was impressed. Amy always slept soundly when they were on the road. He could never do that, not in a million years, nod off when someone else was driving. Even when Amy was driving, he kept a sharp eye out. Good or bad, Tim Fontaine had always needed to hold his destiny in his own hands. But apparently Amy had no such qualms. Apparently she had trust and belief in his driving. That was comforting.
Trust. Belief. Big words. When they’d started out, when they were white-hot, trust and belief didn’t matter. No words did. All they wanted was each other—anywhere, anyhow. But now a good part of that heat had evaporated. Things had changed. Hell, everything had changed. Time did that—reconfigured you. In the end you were a different unit from how you started out. They were a normal married couple now.
On the radio a female ABC announcer was playing classical music—something by Prokofiev. Tim didn’t fancy it; he scanned for something else. Norah Jones turned up on one of the local FM stations. She could sing all right, in that sad and wistful style so common among the current crop of songbirds. But you couldn’t tell one from the other.
You’re showing your age, he told himself.
He glanced at Amy again. She was a picture. To his eye she hadn’t aged one day in the eight years they’d been together. In the beginning, Amy’s passionate lovemaking was most unexpected, even shocking, coming from someone with those elegant Gwyneth Paltrow looks. That had made it all the more exciting for him.
But when he looked in the mirror, his face told a different story. His once-dark hair was greying and wearing thin at the crown, his jowls had thickened and deep creases ran across his throat, as if he’d been slashed. Worst of all, goddamned liver spots had begun sprouting on his shoulders and on the backs of his hands. Just a few years ago he was considered young for his age, but suddenly, it seemed, the unforgiving march of time had eaten that up. Now he looked every one of his fifty-three years.
Whenever he dwelt on this subject—every morning as he shaved—Tim worried that Amy might dump him for younger blood. The potential was there once he was no longer sexually attractive. And she’d left someone for him, so why wouldn’t she do it again?
The future was an impenetrable haze. But for what they’d had together, Tim was truly thankful.
Now, though, he had some doubts about her. He’d been wondering if she was the kind of woman who got hot for a man in a flash, then turned off him when the fire went out. It shamed him to admit it, but there were signs that she was going off him. She often faked sleep to thwart his night-time advances; you didn’t have to be a gun detective to tell when someone was pretending to be asleep. There were times when she ended a telephone conversation abruptly when he came home unexpectedly. He could hear her ringing off as he closed the front door behind him. If he asked who it was, she’d say, ‘No one,’ or something equally lame, and then change the subject. Then there were the hang-up calls when he answered the phone—at least once or twice a week for the last six months. And, increasingly, she went out with friends, especially when Tim worked late, which he often had to do to keep the coffers well filled. In the beginning, a twenty-year age difference didn’t matter, but by the time she hit her mid-forties and he was pushing seventy—seventy!—it might be a different story. If they lasted that long.
Maybe he was paranoid, but Tim had developed serious concerns about Amy—sleeping now like a baby by his side, a picture of purity and innocence, though she had a strong-willed, sometimes volatile, temperament. He wasn’t sure how he’d deal with it if she left him. He’d once acted for a multi-millionaire businessman—a perfectly respectable Rotary and Chamber of Commerce type—who had stabbed his wife sixty-six times, and then cut her in half, simply because she told him she was leaving. Every day in the papers there were stories about men who did crazy, violent things even when their wives threatened to walk. Madness lurked in most people, if not everyone, but Tim could never imagine himself doing anything to hurt Amy.
As he drove, these thoughts churned around in his mind. Tim knew this alone could send one nuts: he shook his head to expel the negativity. He became aware that he was strangling the wheel, and flexed out his fingers. It’s all fine. She’s not going anywhere. Amy had a comfortable life: a great home with an infinity pool in Red Hill; tennis club membership; skiing vacations in Colorado; clothes from Vera Wang. Tim was by no means the wealthiest barrister in Canberra, but he did all right, better than all right, considering his humble origins in Sydney’s wild west.
His thoughts drifted even further backwards. He remembered the first time he got it on with Amy, in a Canberra bar, after she’d interviewed him on her radio program. At the time she had the breakfast slot on one of the popular stations. He’d been taken with her name, Amy Hightower, and then, when he came face-to-face with her … well, the chemistry was palpable, right from the introductions. From the moment he locked eyes with her, Tim’s only thought was: How soon can I get her into the cot? The answer: not long. Two days, in fact.
Those thoughts dragged him further into the past, to his pre-lawyer days, years on the force as a uniformed cop, a ‘jack’ as the boys on the street called him. It was equivalent to being called a dog, or a pig. ‘Hey, jack!’ they’d yell when he cruised past in a patrol car, giving him the bird. Not much respect there.
Tim Fontaine was no sentimentalist, but there were odd moments when he indulged. Remembered—with fondness, mostly—growing up in that vast tract of grief and sorrow otherwise known as Sydney’s western suburbs. That was back in the day, when he still went by his full name: Tim de la Fontainebleu. He sure copped plenty at school because of it. Not that there was anything fancy about his family—they were blue-collar all the way through, right down to the second-hand clothes and Christmas presents.
Once, this mountainous, small-eyed thug named Clive Dane came up to Tim in the playground and said, ‘You’re a weak cunt, de la Fontainebloo.’ Next thing, Tim was flat on the ground, seeing stars. He never saw that big, fat fist coming.
Clive Dane. The Dane family was a tribe of retards, thieves and bash artists, rotten from the top down. Old man Dane was forever beating up on the wife. Cops were always around at the Dane house, which was a humpy thrown together from scrap—no doubt stolen—materials. They were the pits.
That same night, Tim’s dad, a senior constable at the local stationhouse, took him down the milk bar for a double-header ice-cream. A double-header! This was an unusual treat—unheard of, really. Next day he gave Tim a pair of boxing gloves, second-hand, naturally. ‘World’s full of Clive Danes,’ his father told him. ‘You want to get by, you have to defend yourself.’
That was when Tim started travelling on the train to a police boys’ club in a nearby suburb, two or three times a week after school. There he was taught the rudiments of boxing by off-duty cops, usually ruddy-faced and reeking of beer. Still, they were performing a service in their own time, and for nothing.
Tim learned how to defend himself, and got better as he grew taller and put on weight. By the time he was sixteen he could, in the parlance of the street, go a bit. Every night he attacked the heavy bag his old man had rigged up in the shed until he couldn’t raise one more blow. But he only ever got into a blue one time, at a dance in Blacktown. Tim found that boxing wasn’t much use up against gangs armed with bottles and knives and knuckledusters. He hit one guy good and hard and then got the hell out. After that he steered clear of the Blacktown rock music scene.
Inevitably he followed his father into the force, never really thought about doing anything else. By the time he was eighteen he was a raw-boned, grinning probationary constable with a gun on his hip. And he got to drive fast cars. What a buzz that was.
Amy came out of her stupor, stretched her eyes open. Gave him a dozy smile.
‘How much further?’ she said.
‘TomTom says … one hundred and twenty-four point seven,’ Tim said, glancing at the GPS. ‘Nearly halfway there.’
‘Been and gone. About ten minutes ago. You missed all that excitement.’
Silence for a minute or two as she gazed at the countryside rushing by.
‘You listening to this?’ she said. Queen: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
‘No way,’ he said.
She started scanning for something more acceptable. Tim became aware of a big truck in his rear-view, a B-Double, right on his tail. Where the fuck did that come from? Tim was sitting on ninety-five. He pushed it up another five. The B-Double stayed right there, practically tailgating him. The truck had a bank of lights on a roof bar. Tim put his foot down. Now he was on a hundred-ten. The B-Double matched his speed. Then its horn blared. That was when Amy first noticed they had a tail. ‘Shit!’ she said, twisting around.
‘Christ almighty,’ Tim said. ‘What does this joker want?’
‘Tim!’ she said. ‘He’s nearly hitting us!’
‘Fuck! Can’t pull over,’ he said. ‘He’s too close anyhow. If I hit the brakes he’ll smash into us for sure!’
‘Do something!’ Amy screamed. Tim saw in her eyes that she was scared to death. So was he.
Tim wrenched the wheel to the left, touching the shoulder of the road. The B-Double edged out, looking to pass, but then another truck came thundering the other way. Coming up was a long curve, double lines all the way. Tim hugged the shoulder, giving the B-Double all the room he could afford. Suddenly it pulled out and screamed past them, horn blaring nonstop. The rush of air between the two vehicles rocked the Kluger, forcing Tim further off the bitumen, into the gravel and dangerously close to a fence and overhanging branches. Right then he was pretty sure he was gonzo. Hold on, hold on. But the Kluger suddenly swung sideways in the truck’s ferocious backwash, spinning on the loose stones. Tim stomped on the brake pedal and gripped the wheel for dear life. Amy was screaming, grasping her head in both hands. The all-wheel drive momentarily tipped, going onto two wheels, then righted itself and skittered on down the road at a dangerous angle—travelling backwards. There came a terrible shriek of rubber as he practically stood up on the brakes. He knew that was wrong, totally wrong—in this situation, you never hit the brakes, you steered in the direction the car was swerving—but he was going too fast and unless he could stop the car he was certainly going to wrap them around a tree …
In that instant, the moment before his death, his mind flashed on a TV news item showing bits of car wreckage scattered along a highway, a young reporter telling his audience the two occupants had no chance.
And then, in a dense cloud of dust and gravel and gum leaves, the Kluger skidded to a halt—in the middle of the road, and pointed the wrong way.
Tim took a deep breath. Then another. His heart was racing. The dashboard was a constellation of red lights—he’d stalled the car.
‘Holy. Fucking. Shit!’ he said in a rasping voice. ‘You—you all right, baby?’
Amy’s face was still buried in her hands. He touched the top of her head, and she convulsed violently, as if he had hit her.
Tim turned his attention back to the Kluger. He restarted it with some difficulty, four or five tries, and then brought it the right way around with a three-point turn. He drove slowly on until he found a place to stop for a spell.
When he’d switched off the engine and unsnapped his seatbelt, Amy said, ‘I thought I was dead then.’
‘No, I mean—really dead. And then … when you touched me, I got a shock because I suddenly realised I wasn’t. I was … I was in another place, all silent and serene.’
Tim was nodding. ‘Scary. Christ, what a bastard!’
In a minute or so she said, ‘Did you get his number?’
‘Afraid not. Had a bit on the plate.’ He blew out some air.
They sat quietly for a good five minutes, listening to the ticking of the engine.
‘I wouldn’t mind a cigarette,’ Amy said. She’d given up five years ago, hadn’t lit one since.
‘Sorry I can’t oblige,’ he said. ‘I could actually use something stronger.’ He’d just noticed that his hands were trembling uncontrollably. Not an ideal start to a relaxing weekend away.
‘Anyway … let’s push on,’ he said, turning the key. ‘Onward and upward.’ He grinned at her, a false heroic gesture, but didn’t get one in return.
Tim and Amy were headed for their weekender deep in the Pericoe Valley, adjacent to the South East Forest National Park and around thirty kilometres inland from the fishing port of Eden. Most of it was virgin bush country, dense pine forest with a handful of residences, old farmhouses, caravans and derelict shacks scattered about. The boom period for Pericoe had been during the early seventies, when a community of hippies and dropouts had settled there during the wave of anti-Vietnam war flower power and a different way of being. It was supposedly modelled on Nimbin, the thriving hippie community in northern New South Wales. People cut down trees and built their own shelters, planted vegetables, raised chickens, goats and pigs, smoked a lot of weed, sang songs by Donovan and Melanie and Bob Dylan, embraced the concept of free love and free everything else. Disturbed long-haired Vietnam veterans arrived in army greens, hoping to escape their wartime nightmares and put their lives back together. For a few years it must have been some kind of paradise, where people went nude and painted their bodies and grew dope, babies were born and raised totally insulated from the military–industrial complex—that evil conglomerate that ran the western world—and no one was trying to shoot the crap out of anyone else.
Problem was, the soil wasn’t capable of supporting much except some hardy plants along with the dope. Dense forest cover blocked sunlight and sucked up most of the nutrients. More crucially, there was no regular water supply—no river or lake, or even a dam. Whoever chose the location failed to notice why no one else lived there. Disillusion soon set in. A five-year drought pretty much finished the commune off. By the early eighties, Pericoe had gone from the Garden of Eden to the Valley of Despair. People abandoned their shacks and caravans. The pigs, cats and dogs were left to run loose as the inhabitants packed up their meagre belongings and hitched rides back to the real world. Only a few resolute souls remained. Nowadays, there were probably about thirty people scattered through the Pericoe Valley, although no one could say for sure.
Half an hour on, Tim was deep in thought as he sped through the bush, barely noticing any of it as he barrelled along the Mount Darragh Road. In his mind he was replaying the incident with the B-Double, but seeing the car flip over, screeching down the road on its roof before coming to grief. Beside him Amy was sitting up, eyes wide open, staring straight ahead. Nothing dozy about her now. Neither had spoken a word since they’d restarted their journey. Tim was picking up a negative vibe, as if she somehow blamed him. And oddly, he did feel a bit responsible for putting her in danger.
‘Well, baby doll,’ he said, patting her leg, ‘least we’re still here to tell the story.’
Amy turned to him with a faint, mirthless smile, one side of her mouth turned down. But she still didn’t say anything. Tim put it down to shock. He removed his hand and put it back on the wheel.
In a little while they passed through the small town of Wyndham. The late sun was casting long shadows of trees across the road—always disconcerting. Tim blinked, concentrating harder. Only forty kilometres to go. He turned onto Barragate Road, then Towamba Road—last leg of the trip. At the junction was the general store, which had been there for at least a hundred years. The last chance saloon for all essentials.
Tim pulled in out front and killed the engine. Amy maintained her silence. She seemed locked into a world of her own—apparently unaware that they’d stopped.
‘Hey,’ he said softly.
She looked at him with her pale blue Gwyneth Paltrow eyes.
‘Come on,’ he said, smiling—but not overplaying it. ‘Time to pay our respects to His Worship.’
The store was of the old-world variety, packed to the rafters with hardware, tools, drygoods, household items, sturdy outdoor clothing, fishing tackle, groceries, bottled water. There was also a range of locally made gourmet products: preserves, chutneys, bread, confectionery. It also had the only telephone in the district. Anyone needed to make a call, they came to Gus’s store and used his 1980-vintage wall phone, complete with scratch pad and pencil dangling on a string alongside. And since there was no mail delivery hereabouts, the store also served as an unofficial post office.
Whenever Tim came through the fly-wire door to be confronted with the wondrous array of provisions, he imagined the pioneers with their bullock drays calling in for their pots and pans and sacks of flour before pushing on into the great wilderness—it had that kind of feel to it. It was a step back through time.
The store had been run forever by a disapproving octogenarian named Gus. He was a local fixture and a sort of unofficial councilman for the entire valley. Gus was often referred to as the mayor. Seemingly without ever leaving his post, he knew everything that went down hereabouts.
Tim and Amy stood at the counter, surveying the stacked mass of goods, much of which bore brand names that had ceased to exist long ago. It all seemed haphazard, quite chaotic, yet no doubt Gus could put his hand on anything a customer wanted straight away. No sign of him right now, however. Tim pressed the worn-down brass buzzer on the counter, connected by wires that made their way through the guts of the store to a residence out the back where Gus lived alone. Apparently his wife had died decades ago.
Eventually Gus appeared, weaving through racks of King Gee overalls and clusters of kerosene lanterns hanging from the ceiling. His expression didn’t change when he saw Tim. Tim had never seen Gus smile. Amy thought he was a grumpy old bastard, and he was, but Tim had time for him. He had a story to tell, no doubt. And there was a sense of humour buried in there, somewhere.
‘Afternoon, Gus,’ Tim said.
‘Afternoon yourself,’ Gus said in his friendly, gruff manner—though one could never be sure how much ‘friendly’ was in there. Seemingly aware of her dislike of him, he barely acknowledged Amy, giving her only the slightest nod. She believed he was a misogynist, but Tim wasn’t so sure. He thought Gus was uncomfortable with women rather than disliking them.
‘So … how’s business of late?’
‘Business never changes,’ Gus said. ‘Like me. Man might as well be a wooden Indian.’
Tim, nodded, smiling. This was the standard rigmarole.
‘Old Kaw-Liga,’ Tim said, referring to the Hank Williams song from the fifties.
‘That’s right,’ Gus said. ‘Made of knotty pine. That’s how I feel most of the time.’ He looked out the window at the gleaming silver Kluger. ‘Got yourself a new conveyance?’
‘Yeah,’ Tim said. ‘Only had it a month or so.’
‘Not even run in,’ Gus said. ‘What is it, a Humvee? All those off-road war wagons look the same to me.’
Tim smiled at the very idea. ‘No, mate—she’s a Kluger.’
Gus frowned. ‘Kluger. Sounds German. No time for Germans.’
‘Not German. It’s a Toyota—Japanese.’ Soon as he said it, Tim realised his mistake. Too late.
‘Don’t talk to me about the Japanese,’ Gus said, spitting the word. ‘Not after what they did to my brother, Tyrone, God rest his soul, at Hellfire Pass.’
Tim was nodding, tight-lipped. He wasn’t about to say anything to encourage Gus down that road. Amy, meantime, was inspecting the jars of fancy preserves and whatnot.
‘They beat him half to death when he fell down on the job,’ Gus said. ‘Died the next day from dysentery and starvation. Weighed sixty-five pounds by then.’ A dark shadow crossed his face as he reimagined the ordeal his brother had gone through. ‘Like to have seen ’em try it in a fair fight. Tyrone would’ve taken a dozen of ’em, one hand tied behind his back.’
It was a long time ago, Gus, Tim thought. World’s moved on a bit. Words he’d never dare utter.
‘True enough,’ he said, to fill the space. He allowed a respectful moment or two to pass before changing the subject. ‘What about Malcolm? How’s he going?’
‘Who could possibly say,’ Gus said.
‘Think I spotted him in the bush once,’ Tim said. ‘Last time I was here. But I wasn’t too sure.’
‘If he doesn’t want you to see him—you won’t.’
‘Right.’ Tim turned to Amy. ‘Anyway … must press on. We’d better have some of Mrs Brennan’s sourdough bread. And a couple of dozen of the spring water. Anything you want, baby?’
Amy had collected several jars of chutney and jam. ‘I’ll have these,’ she said, dumping them on the counter. Tim selected four loaves of the bread while Gus hefted two shrink-wrapped twelve-packs of water from a stack and put them with the rest.
‘Anything else you need?’
‘Should just about do,’ Tim said. He shelled out some cash. Gus worked it all out with a notepad and pencil, then made change from an ancient wooden drawer, worn smooth and blond.
What remained was a ten-kilometre drive down a dirt road. After fifteen or so minutes, about four kilometres from Tim’s place, among trees so tall dusk seemed to have suddenly come down, he slowed at a small cabin set back a way from the road, half concealed in shrubbery.
He left the motor running while he looked at the cabin.
‘No signs of life,’ he said.
‘What would you expect? It looks deserted,’ Amy said.
Tim got out and opened the back of the car. Amy watched him pick up a dozen of the water bottles and two loaves of bread. Then he made his way to the cabin.
Malcolm—the only name he was known by, other than Mad Malcolm—was one of the original settlers of the Pericoe valley. He was a disturbed Vietnam veteran, suffering from what would nowadays be diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—PTSD. But whatever name you gave it, Malcolm was one screwed-up motherfucker. When everyone else pulled the pin, he stayed on. He was such a loner he probably didn’t even realise they’d all gone. How he survived, Tim didn’t know. There was no sign of a vegetable garden, no chickens, nothing. Not even a dog. He was never seen at the store. He had no car. The only explanation was that he lived off the land, hunting the feral pigs or rabbits or whatever else came under his gunsights. Tim had heard the occasional rifle shot ringing out in the woods, and he always assumed it was Malcolm snaring his dinner. In his mind’s eye he had visions of a demented wildman, a frightening vision of tangled red hair wearing a loincloth made from animal hide, and bare feet: a modern-day William Buckley, the escaped convict who lived with Aborigines for half his life.
The cabin was a well-constructed, solid little dwelling built from logs that had been split in half with an axe. Mortar was a rough mix of mud and grass, similar to that used in the old wattle-and-daub pioneering days. You could imagine a family of gnomes living in it. There was a front window that, in Tim’s experience, always had a cloth blind of some sort.
Tim knocked a couple of times. No answer. He rapped again, waited a minute. Then he put the water and bread on the ground in front of the door. He had never expected anyone to open it.
This was part of the ritual whenever Tim came to the valley. He had got into the habit of leaving these offerings for Malcolm for reasons he couldn’t properly explain. As he left the property, Tim stopped in his tracks. He had that unmistakeable feeling of being watched. He turned around, but saw nothing. No sign of life anywhere. He scanned the bush. It was all quiet and still. Not even a bird breaking the silence. Still he felt eyes on him. There had been something …
‘Mission accomplished,’ he said, climbing back aboard the car.
‘I don’t know why you bother,’ Amy said.
‘Neither do I,’ he said. ‘Guess it gives me a nice warm feeling—you know, reaching out to help the dispossessed and alienated.’
‘Lawyers don’t do that,’ she said. ‘At least none that I know.’
‘I realise it’s dead against the code of ethics,’ he said. ‘But what the hell.’
‘Like leaving out cake for Father Christmas,’ she said. ‘But at least he gives you something in return.’
‘Amy,’ he said, turning towards her as they trundled down the dirt road, ‘I hate to be the one to tell you, but … there is no Father Christmas.’
Amy laughed, and at that moment, in his peripheral vision, Tim noticed a dark blur flash in front of the car. Instinctively he hit the brakes, but too late. Thump. Amy let out a shrill cry. Tim pulled up.
There was blood on the windscreen.
‘What is going on!’ Amy shouted, no hint of a question in her tone.
Tim got out of the car and saw a writhing kangaroo on the verge of the road behind them. It was thumping its tail furiously on the ground. Tim approached the animal and, sensing his presence, it started freaking out, trying to drag itself out of harm’s way, back to the safety of the bush.
Blood was spattered over the grey fur on its chest—a great deal of blood, coming from its mouth. Tim took a step closer. The kangaroo’s leg twitched as it scraped at the dirt with its front paws. It was not long for this world.
There was only one thing to do. Tim found a dead branch just off the road. He advanced on the desperately struggling animal, trying to get behind it so it couldn’t see him.
‘What are you doing?’ Amy screamed at him. She too had got out of the car.
‘It’s dying, Amy. I have to put it out of its misery.’
‘I have to! You can see he’s had it! Can’t just leave him here like this, can we?’
He stepped closer to the stricken kangaroo, which suddenly convulsed violently, desperate to escape its fate.
‘Don’t you dare!’ Amy screamed.
Tim froze, the branch raised above his shoulders. He turned and looked at her. Amy was, he was discovering, much more squeamish about cruelty to animals than to humans. Violence against people didn’t seem to bother her much. But then, he thought, maybe that wasn’t unusual, since people are so often responsible for their own grief, through stupidity, greed, whatever, but animals can’t be blamed for their plight.
Astonishingly, Amy had once been romantically involved with a gangland figure, a hardcore criminal named Lance Delaney, who had done time for fraud, violent assaults, armed robbery, car theft and, finally, murder for hire. That was before Tim came along and stole her away while Delaney was upriver, doing penance for a murder he claimed he didn’t commit. It was one of several, but he never faced charges for the others.
Tim couldn’t believe it when Amy told him about Lance. What Amy, a diplomat’s daughter with a degree in anthropology and a respectable job as a radio announcer, was doing with a dirtbag like Delaney was one of the world’s great mysteries. When he put the question to her later, she said it was a buzz being around him. ‘Lance isn’t all bad. He can be sweet and charming. He has charisma. He has dash. He doesn’t just sit in a corner and behave himself. But I don’t expect you to understand,’ she’d said pointedly. She even attended court as a supporter during one of his trials, and visited him in prison couple of times, until Tim drew a line. Sweet and charming Lance Delaney was not. Narcissistic, cunning and manipulative, yes. And what was this ‘dash’ that was so appealing? All it meant was a willingness—a desire—to live outside the law instead of holding down a real job.
‘Amy,’ he said, ‘for Christ’s sake, get a grip! Turn away!’
Miraculously, after a moment’s hesitation, she obeyed.
Tim dispatched the kangaroo with a single, sickening blow to the skull.
Perfect isolation. No phones. No neighbors. No help.
Ex-cop turned criminal lawyer Tim Fontaine and his wife Amy are heading for their weekender – a restored farmhouse in remote bushland known as Black Pig Bend.
But even before they’ve eaten dinner, three outlaw bikers arrive on the scene. Suddenly Tim’s house becomes a fortress. Who are these people? Why have they come? Who sent them?
As the lights go out and darkness descends, their idyllic world is transformed into a nightmare from which there is no waking up. Tim must grapple not just with formidable adversaries, but with unsettling questions relating to his own past, both as cop and lawyer, and even to his marriage.
But even if they survive this night against appalling odds, the ordeal is far from over. For when the past comes knocking, it will not be denied …
“Not for the faint hearted” – Shane Maloney, author of the Murray Whelan series
“8 Hours to Die scorches along relentlessly, displaying all of JR Carroll’s trademark thriller-writing skills: hard-edged prose, vivid characterisation, a strong sense of place and tense plotting.” – Garry Disher, author of the Wyatt series and the Challis & Destry series
Buy Direct (All devices except Kindle)
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Barnes and Noble (Nook devices)
Google Play (All devices except Kindle)
iBooks Store (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac)
Kobo (All devices except Kindle)
JR Carroll lives in Melbourne, where he was born and raised. A graduate of Melbourne University, he worked as a teacher for a number of years before turning to full-time fiction writing. His first book, about the Vietnam War, was Token Soldiers. This was followed by a series of crime thrillers, including Catspaw, No Way Back, Out of the Blue, The Clan, Cheaters, and Blindside. His latest crime novel, 8 Hours to Die, will be released by Momentum in January …