Birnam Wood, by Eleanor Catton (THWUP, 2022)

Neil's picture

10 years after her phenomenal novel The Luminaries, Catton finally delivers a very different book - a propulsive thriller, a contemporary novel of the highest quality. It brings together a disparate group of characters, anarchists, wealthy business people, an American billionaire, in an isolated region of the South Island. The first section of the book establishes the characters and their motivations. Then, following a serious incident, the plot then kicks in and the final 200-odd pages are one of the most sustained, relentless exciting sequences I've ever read, building to a very unexpected ending. The characters are all nuanced and flawed, the dialogue sparkling - this is a thriller that is actually about something.