Saturday, 29 October 2016

Blog Tour: After the Texans by Declan Milling

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an arc copy of this book in return for an honest review.  Today I am delighted to share my review along with an extract from the book as part of the blog tour.


At the start of the book, Bull Griffith, coal mine owner and Australia’s richest man, is reflecting on a meeting with Australia’s Prime Minister and Treasurer. Having helped put them into government, he’s unhappy with them and is letting them know. This sets the scene for the plot as it unfolds.

The trip had been an utter waste of time. But he’d had to try. His partners expected it. Those two bastards, Mendicane and Hounganis, didn’t want to hear what he had to say. But he’d told them anyway. And he’d tell ‘em again, if he had to. As for that smarmy little monkey, Mendicane, who had him to thank for being resident in the Lodge: well, just as he gave, so he could take away.
They’d met a couple of days earlier, in Canberra, the Prime Minister’s suite at Parliament House. Mendicane’s chief of staff had shown him in.
“Bull, good to see you, mate,” Mendicane had said, looking at Bull over the top of his reading glasses, a mannerism he had picked up since becoming Prime Minister. His minders had coached him into it as a way of giving him more gravitas, something in which he was sorely lacking. With his hunched, rolling gait and big ears, the satirical cartoonists were showing no mercy.
Shaking the offered hand, Griffith wondered what had possessed him to throw his substantial wealth and political clout behind such a nincompoop. It had guaranteed Mendicane success in the party-room coup that Griffith himself had orchestrated, after one too many anti-mining policy decisions by the previous incumbent. But why, why, had he supported Michael Mendicane MP, the gaff-prone member from a snooty part of Melbourne? He shook his head in a private acknowledgement of his own stupidity.
“I invited Tony to pack down with us.”
“Uh, the other half of the dynamic duo,” grunted Griffith as Tony Hounganis, Mendicane’s Deputy and Treasurer, waddled in through the door from his adjoining office suite.
Griffith looked around the office: behind him, a wall of redwood-panelled doors concealed cupboards and who knew what else, although he guessed they would be pretty much empty; in front, a cluster of armchairs and sofa that looked like giant, spongy, cup mushrooms, inverted; cream-coloured on the outside and brown in the middle. At the far end of the room a large, simple redwood desk on which some papers were scattered and behind which more redwood shelves were sparingly arranged with family photos and a couple of mementos of official visits.
To Bull Griffith, there was little evidence of any serious activity.
“I see you’ve settled in.”
Mendicane gestured for them to sit in the armchairs and Griffith deposited his ample frame in one.
“I’ll get straight to the point. If you go ahead with this policy review you’ve been gabbing about in the press, that’s the end of it. You’ll have lost my support, just like your predecessor did. And don’t forget, that’s how you got to where you are now.”
He fixed them both with his hard, squinting stare.
“Fair go, Bull,” said Mendicane, “you wait until the High Court dumps us on the bottom of the ruck, then you start putting the boot in!”
“Don’t gimme that High Court excuse bullshit, Mick. You know as well as I do that the government could legislate to get around that.”
“Bull, look, be reasonable,” said Hounganis. “The High Court’s just about threatening us. Their judgment was so critical of the government – it said if we keep funding Queensland’s activities with the coal loader and port facilities, we’d be breaking the law. Not just our own laws, international law, too!
“I told you – you can legislate your way round it.”
It’s not that simple, Bull! We’ve got the bloody tourism industry virtually camped in our offices.”
“Those poofters! ‘Camped’ is about right! Wait’ll you get a few miners moving in here.”
“And you might have noticed there were a couple of hundred thousand protesters out in the streets of the capital cities each of the last three weekends.”
“Lefties with nothing better to do. What about the silent majority?”
Jeez, anyone would think we were facing the West Indies speed attack from the nineties, we’ve had so many bouncers bowled at us lately,” said Mendicane. “We’ve been ducking and weaving, rolling with the punches, as far as we can, but we’ve got to start hitting some runs soon, Bull. That’s what the polls are telling us.”
“You’re only interested in saving your own skins, you weak bastards. These policy changes you’ve been talkin’ about – they’ll wreck this country’s economy. They’re pure populist fairy floss. Wind and solar – them so-called ‘renewables – they’re never gonna replace coal in this country.”
He poked a finger in Hounganis’s direction, making him pull back instinctively in fright.
“And if you think you’ll ever balance a budget without exportincoal, just go ahead and try. You’ll never do it.”
“Now, Bull, you don’t need to get like that,” Hounganis responded. We’ve got a very difficult political situation here, mate. Politically, the coal loader is dead in the water.
Bull, mate, we’ve got to listen to what the people are yelling at us. Think of it like a Test match. Over the five days, you’ve got to adapt your tactics to suit changes in the pitch, and the weather, you change your fields, and your bowlers, to suit the batsmen, play to their weaknesses. We’ve got to adapt our strategy, otherwise the crowd’s going to get restless and, and ...Mendicane searched for the right sporting analogy to finish the point he was making, “... and start a Mexican wave.”
Griffith jumped to his feet surprisingly quickly for such a big man. As far as he was concerned, the meeting was over. These two boofheads simply weren’t listening, so there was nothing left to discuss.
“Well, they’ll be wavin good-bye to thousands of jobs, billions of investment, and to this country’s future. That’s just for starters. And they’ll be waving bye-bye to you two and this government!”
“Bull, what the-bloody-hell else do you think we can do faced with a front-row of liberal, left-leaning High Court judges – they’re not binding straight, but the ref’s not watching, is he?” pleaded Mendicane.
“I don’t know, Mick, that’s what you and Tony are here to sort out. That’s why I helped put you here!”
“We might be on the canvas, Bull, but we’re not down for the count!” Mendicane tried.
“I don’t care, Mick, that’s it for me. The next lot of political funding I provide is goin into my own party and my own candidates, not you and your lot. At least, then, I know I’ll get what I pay for.” 

My Review:
I want to start off by saying that this is not my usual read, but when the opportunity arose for me to review this book as part of the blog tour, I decided to take a chance on After the Texans and I was so pleasantly surprised by this book.  I'm not sure what I expected, but what I got is really well written, gripping thriller, that I absolutely loved.

I found that I flew through this book and I had it read in one sitting, in a matter of a few hours.  I enjoyed how action packed the book is, never having a dull moment, with yet another twist or turn always just around the corner. 

While this is the second book in a trilogy, it is also a great stand alone book.  I have not read the first book in the series myself, and I didn't feel as if I was missing out on any part of the story.  I still got to know the characters very well and I really began to like Emil as a character the more the book went on. 

I am very impressed by what I read in this book.  I know that if I wasn't a book reviewer I would never come across some of the great books that I have, and I know for sure that this is not a book that I would have taken a chance on in any other circumstances.  I am very lucky that I decided to take the chance and that I got to discover what it a brilliantly written, thoroughly written story.  
4 stars

After The Texans Blurb
Having exposed the corrupt government in Papua New Guinea, the UN’s carbon market watchdog is riding high. But Emil Pfeffer, its head of market integrity, is in meltdown. The UN investigation has been shelved and his girlfriend, Johanna, has been kidnapped as insurance that his inquiries will go no further. 
Wracked by guilt and desperate to find her, Emil finds himself thrust into the high-stakes battle being waged for control of the world’s remaining fossil fuel resources. 
It's economic war for hegemony over the future of global energy, being played out against a backdrop of Australian domestic politics, where coal mining and the Great Barrier Reef are locked in a fight to the death.
After The Texans is the second novel in the Carbon Black series.
About Declan Milling
Declan Milling has over thirty years experience as an environmental lawyer. Born in Australia,he holds degrees in science and law and a masters degree in environmental law. Currently based in the United Kingdom, Milling divides his time between London and Edinburgh. His first novel, Carbon Black, was released in 2014.


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