Author: HR Kemp
Publisher/Year: H.R. Kemp/H Schuster Publishing/2019
Can ordinary people thwart a powerful conspiracy?
Shelley Ormond’s life is about to change forever. Her friend, a young refugee, dies suddenly and the federal police have shrouded her case in secrecy. Shelley has never been bold, but she will have to break the rules and jeopardise her safe, public service career to learn the truth.
Her new friend Adrian, a medical researcher, is studying a mystery illness in outback communities. Young children are falling fatally ill, but there’s no obvious cause although suspicious mining activity in the area is worth investigating.
Shelley delves deeper and is drawn into a sinister world of police cover-ups, organised crime and corporate greed. If she obeys the law, the powerful can go on breaking it.
The stakes are high, and the treacherous schemers will do anything to keep their deadly secrets. Lives don’t matter, not even hers.
Can they expose the plot before more lives are lost?
Will the formidable and ruthless forces behind the conspiracy stop them?
Reviewer: Narrelle Harris
There’s a lot to like in HR Kemp’s debut thriller, Deadly Secrets. Set in contemporary Australia, it speaks to a lot of my personal concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers, political inaction on climate change, and political manipulation of both government departments and Federal Police services.
Deadly Secrets follows multiple threads on these issues, but the main viewpoint character is Shelley Ormond, who we meet on European holiday from her work in the department of immigration, not long after an unpleasant divorce. There she meets medical researcher, Adrian at a climate change rally and his group of activist friends.
In parallel, we meet unscrupulous Australian Prime Minister Wrogarth and his aids as they prepare for the next election. Skulduggery is clearly afoot, and Wrogarth is just as clearly in deep with some ugly types in the mining industry, just for beginners.
Shelley’s professional need to remain neutral comes under increasing pressure as she investigates the apparent suicide of a vulnerable refugee she’d been helping. The more she learns the more a wider issue becomes uncovered, forcing her to choose to be ‘just following orders’ or to take a stand. At the same time, Wrogarth’s machinations begin to unravel.
However, while there are some good ideas and good writing, the pace is a bit choppy at the start and then much to fast in the last few chapters. Some key events are wound up offstage and only reported by third parties, and I’m sorry to have missed what could have been scenes of fantastic tension and kick.
The political thriller at the centre of the tale fits the title tag of “what unspeakable truths lurk beneath the lies?” Deadly Secrets is worth a look, despite its flaws.