cover image Strange Ink

Strange Ink

Gary Kemble. Titan, $14.95 trade paper (394p) ISBN 978-1-78565-643-9

In Kemble’s taut, suspenseful debut set in Brisbane, Australia, local and international concerns combine with the supernatural. Small-time journalist Harry Hendrick wakes up after a stag party with a hangover and a new tattoo he has no memory of getting. When he starts having intense nightmares, he quickly realizes his new tattoo is far from ordinary. More inexplicable tattoos begin appearing, bringing more nightmares, which Harry suspects may actually be someone else’s disturbing memories. Those memories have strong political implications, and Harry must solve the mystery they present before a depraved villain becomes prime minister. The novel’s gritty realism viscerally and effectively conveys the discomfort of new ink, the oppressive heat of the Queensland summer, and the horrors of war and murder. Harry is an underachiever with sexist tendencies, but his relatability, hometown loyalty, and doggedness make him easy to root for. This is a strong debut by a promising new voice. Agent: Alex Adsett, Alex Adsett Publishing Services (Australia). (Oct.)