By Don­ald McMaster, Ar­ca­dia, 2013

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - WAR­REN BREWER

THIS is pro­lific short story writer Don­ald McMaster’s first ven­ture into novel writ­ing.

The two gen­res are some­times dif­fi­cult to bridge but Provo­ca­tion works and packs a punch that will res­onate with read­ers who seek ac­tion. Pre­dictably, there is a strong bi­o­graph­i­cal un­der­pin­ning here. The per­vad­ing sen­ti­ment through­out is a love, in­deed pas­sion, for horses. It cer­tainly drives the novel and pre­sum­ably the author as well.

The level of equine knowl­edge on dis­play here goes far be­yond re­search. It is real. The joy, pain and pre­car­i­ous­ness of the horse busi­ness cuts close to the bone. McMaster ob­vi­ously feels it and the reader feels it too.

The cen­tral char­ac­ter Dun­can McKin­ley is a strug­gling horse breeder in On­tario, Canada. He takes an enor­mous gam­ble to res­ur­rect his strug­gling busi­ness by pur­chas­ing a mag­nif­i­cent stal­lion from France. Imag­ine the dev­as­ta­tion he feels to find his re­cently ar­rived an­i­mal dead in his sta­bles, ap­par­ently dis­em­bow­eled by an axe. Who would do such a hor­ren­dous thing? With blind anger and de­sire for re­venge he be­gins a tor­tu­ous and danger­ous jour­ney to find the per­pe­tra­tors and in­flict ter­ri­ble ret­ri­bu­tion. It soon emerges that the an­i­mal has been used to courier drugs. The crime now in­volves very big money and very bad peo­ple. Even the po­lice seem dif­fi­dent and some­what re­luc­tant to be­come in­volved.

McKin­ley is un­de­terred. He dis­cov­ers a set of cir­cum­stances in which he can carry out his vengeance. But it’s be­yond the law. There are fleet­ing mo­ments of moral un­cer­tainty that are quickly put aside.

The out­come is both shock­ing and ex­cit­ing, and an ap­pro­pri­ate type of jus­tice is achieved .... but at a high price.

This is an un­usual story told with, au­then­tic­ity, raw­ness, en­ergy and skill. It is def­i­nitely one- sit­ting ma­te­rial.

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