by Richard Eaton
The front cover describes this novel as ‘a tale of romance, travel and intrigue’. It delivers very satisfactorily on all three counts, and it also incorporates the classic trappings of a fast-paced international thriller – expensive cars, luxury yachts, five-star hotels – as well as trendy locations such as Cannes, a Swiss ski-resort, London’s West-End, the Greek Islands, cosmopolitan Ottawa; and, rather less foreseeably, a brief sojourn to Lightning Ridge in backblocks New South Wales.
But the book is not exclusively plot-driven, as the author has taken care to make both of the main protagonists, male and female, believable and, by and large, likeable. They have vulnerabilities and peccadilloes and back-histories that help the reader to sympathise and relate. They succumb willingly enough to the temptations of hedonism, but they also show a degree or two of compassion and altruism. They grow and they learn.
Some of the descriptions of place and action (skiing and aviation, for instance) are quite technical, but this is likely to add to the enjoyment for aficionados, and they didn’t leave this abysmally ignorant reviewer with the sense that he was being patronised.
Apart from the tension of the romantic relationship (will-he won’t he, will-she won’t she – perhaps a little overwrought at times), the most significant push behind the need to turn the pages is the mysterious Mr Tenby of the title, and his motives.
Tenby is an extraordinarily wealthy American who, by fortuitous accident, meets up with Bill Delahunt, the jobless ex-British army officer who is the major male protagonist, and offers him the chance to spend large sums of money on just about anything that takes his fancy. There are conditions and warnings attached, of course, but to go into any greater detail would be to spoil things. Sufficient to say that the denouement involving Delahunt, his love interest Stephanie, and Mr Joseph Phineas Tenby is very satisfying if not entirely unpredictable. It also leaves the reader room to ponder on what could happen next.
This is a generally fast-paced and highly entertaining tale. Just occasionally it becomes a little repetitive (the same incident, and not necessarily one that is essential to the plot, is sometimes described more than once as the focus shifts from one protagonist to another), and in this regard it could have done with tightening. But although it is longer than it need have been, it is a well-presented book, and a well-written one; a pretty near perfect choice for those who are looking for a relaxing and enjoyable escape from the humdrum of everyday life.
Author: Richard Eaton
Publisher: Richard Eaton
Available: Kindle; Kobo. In print form from Hawkes Bay libraries, Beattie & Forbes book shop in Ahuriri, Wardini’s book shops in Napier and Havelock North, Carson’s book shop in Thames.