Books & Literature

Book Review: The Rush, by Michelle Prak

THRILLER: Out on the wet roads, tensions arise among four backpackers on their way to Darwin. They haven’t prepared for this kind of weather and the flooding isn’t the only threat on the horizon …

A nightmarish Outback thrill ride, where the human and elemental threats compete for supremacy.
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Feature image credit: Simon & Schuster

The Rush is the first novel from new South Australian author, Michelle Prak — a UniSA Lecturer in Public Relations & Social Media — and it is a wild ride of nightmarish proportions.

Beginning with the discovery of a body by the side of a deserted outback South Australian road, The Rush follows the separated storylines of four women: Quinn, a daughter preparing to sell the family farm; Andrea, an isolated outback publican coming to terms with life changes in an unfamiliar location; Hayley, an Adelaide University student heading out on an outback adventure with her boyfriend; and Livia, a climate change activist who joins Hayley on her journey.

In the mix are several male characters: Scott and Joost, who are along for the ride with Hayley and Livia; Matt, Andrea’s husband and co-publican; and a group of motorcyclists who cross paths with the travelers and the publicans. The other player in the game is the mainstay of Australian crime fiction: the vast Australian landscape, playing its part effortlessly, as it has done since time immemorial. Alongside this is a powerful use of that aspect of outback life that is permeating the length and breadth of the country: unexpected torrential rainfall.

The narrative flow crisscrosses characters, timelines, and locations. Over the course of the ensuing 310 pages, secrets are revealed, truths are uncovered, false flags are waved and the tension amps up to a gut-wrenching level. Finally, when final truths are revealed, there’s still room for additional surprises.

Michelle Prak’s debut novel will most definitely appeal to the ever-increasing number of new Australian crime lovers, with a special poignancy for those who have driven the National and Stuart Highways from Adelaide to the outback. These readers are likely to intuit the amalgam of regional pubs that Andrea and Matt’s The Pindarry is drawn from.

The Rush has all the makings of a great TV mini-series or movie, à la Wolf Creek — which the novel has been compared to — and with the spectacular outback cinematic output currently on offer or in production, it is only a matter of time.

Until then, grab a copy and prepare to be “rushed” off your feet.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: May 2023
RRP: $32.99

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