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Skin Deep

Skin Deep 1

by Gary Kemble
Publication Date: 01/07/2015
5/5 Rating 1 Review

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When washed up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out.

When more tattoos appear - accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, bikies, boat people, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman - he begins to dig a little deeper. Harry's search leads him to Jess McGrath. She's successful, married; they are drawn to each other though they have nothing in common but unwanted tattoos and high definition nightmares. Together, they edge closer to unearthing the truth behind the sinister disappearance of an SAS hero and his girlfriend Kyla. There's a federal election looming, with pundits tipping a landslide win for opposition leader Andrew Cardinal.

Harry knows there's a link between these disturbing visions and Cardinal's shadowy past, and is compelled to right wrongs, one way or another.

Skin Deep is the thrilling, layered, genre-bending debut novel of Brisbane author and journalist Gary Kemble.

'With an intense and immediate sense of place, a cracking pace and a great everyman hero, Skin Deep is by turns thrilling and haunting, and will keep readers glued to the page.' - Angela Slatter

Thriller / suspense
Publication Date:
Echo Publishing
Dimensions (mm):
Gary Kemble

Gary Kemble has spent his life telling stories. He wrote, illustrated and self-published his first story (Back from the Grave) aged eight.

His award-winning short fiction has been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia and abroad, and his non-fiction has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online.

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1 Review

Skin Deep is the first book in the Harry Hendrick series by British-born author, Gary Kemble. Harry Hendrick is a journalist for a small time local Brisbane newspaper, The Chermside Chronicle. Stories on traffic black spots, Meals on Wheels, and Chermside Bowls Club are his bread and butter. He’s feeling very fragile over the split, after six years living together, from his girlfriend, Bec, and has moved into a long-vacant house on Croydon Street.

When he wakes one Saturday morning, extremely hung-over from his best mate’s buck’s night, with a strange tattoo on his neck, he puts it down to inebriated bravado, even though it’s completely out of character for him. The local tattoo parlour denies all knowledge and only leaves him more confused with their comments on the nature of the design.

Days later, and after only one beer, another tattoo appears overnight. It seems to be a pictorial expression of the nightmares that plagued his sleep: desperate efforts to save drowning refugees. Perhaps those nightmares have something to do with his mental state, but the batteries that keep running down, the strange scratching noises below the floor and the urge to go out running in the mornings?

While Harry may be a small time journalist, one who never really fulfilled the promise he showed as a student, he still knows how to do research: through methods conventional, and some less so, he learns that he is not the only person experiencing this bizarre phenomenon. He soon finds himself involved in something bigger and more dangerous than he could ever have imagined.

Kemble manages to pack quite a lot into his tale: crooked property developers, drug-dealing motorcycle gangs, a Prime Ministerial candidate with a shady past, a sinking refugee boat, threats to heritage sites, the rape and massacre of innocent Afghans, an unexplained helicopter crash, a couple of ghosts and a bunch of suspicious deaths. That may sound ambitious, but Kemble brings it all together with consummate ease.

Kemble’s protagonist is a totally believable, ordinary guy: genuine, loyal to his friends, no major vices, a bit clueless about women, not terribly ambitious, a bit self-deprecating but with integrity at his core. His support characters are likewise appealing, or, where necessary, credibly villainous. Kemble’s intimate knowledge of Australian politics, journalism and the City of Brisbane are apparent in every paragraph.

Skin Deep has an original plot with a few twists and red herrings that keep the pages turning. The story moves along at a fast pace to a heart-stopping climax. This is a brilliant debut novel, and readers will be pleased to know that Harry Hendrick returns to the page in Bad Blood.
With thanks to Echo Publishing for this copy to read and review.

Contains Spoilers No
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