Books & Literature

Book Review: Spiral, by Khaled Talib

CRIME: A fast-paced tale set in the Clare Valley of a Sydney pharmacist who gets caught in a dangerous web after stumbling upon the body of a dead American reporter.

A fast-paced whodunit that takes an unexpected direction.

Spiral is set around central character, Laurence Turner, a pharmacist from Sydney. He is overcome with guilt after his fiancé dies in a sailboat accident. Tragedy then strikes again in another incident when he dispenses the wrong medication to a customer and the mistake is fatal.

In need of a fresh start, Laurence moves to the Clare Valley in South Australia. He finds work as a grape picker at a winery and makes it his business to stay out of everyone’s way. But when he stumbles across the dead body of a visiting American reporter, one that he was in charge of looking after, things take a turn for the worse and that is when the wild ride begins. 

The premise for this story has good bones and starts off as quite the page-turner but as the story unfolds, I feel the author stretches it too far, which makes it feel unbelievable. Cue the biker gang, the Pentagon and the US Military! I had to check I was still reading the same book when the author introduced these concepts.  

The author has tried to include Australian language to give it an authentic feel, but it missed the mark, and the use of explicit phrases seems unnecessary and like the author is trying too hard to make it relatable to an Aussie reader. Slang words like “defo” are used frequently throughout the book, which was more times than I’ve ever heard it used in everyday conversation. 

Perhaps to counteract the farfetched plot, and make it seem more realistic to the readers, the author uses a lot of descriptive details to describe settings and characters. Sometimes this feels a little unnecessary.

South Australian readers will appreciate the many familiar places that play host to this unfolding drama including the Clare Valley, the Adelaide Central Market, Glenelg, and Kangaroo Island. The Star of Greece in Willunga even gets a mention. 

There are also far too many characters, which makes this already confusing plot even harder to follow. Additionally, having names like, Snowman, Pink Shirt and Stripe Mask makes the characters challenging to connect with.

Spiral is the fourth thriller by Khaled Talib, who is a former magazine journalist and Public Relations consultant. 

Talib has certainly created an original story with many, perhaps too many, interesting ideas. This is a gripping, fast-paced and wild ride, but all I kept thinking while reading it was … ‘Where’s the exit?’ Many readers may enjoy this type of unconventional murder mystery but it had one too plot twists for me to be able to keep up and take seriously.

You can keep up with Khaled Talib and his work by visiting his website here.

Reviewed by Karlie Naulty.

Distributed by: World Castle Publishing
Released: 22 Dec 2020
RRP: $31.90 Paperback (Angus & Robertson), From $4.06 Kindle 

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