Many people know Tony Jones as host of the ABC’s Q and A show. The Twentieth Man is his debut novel and it appears a labour of love, focussing on a particular time in Australia’s history that most are unaware of.
It is set in the 70s, and he catches this time very well, with mentions of TAA, the airline that was then and is no more, the fear of communism, the racism and sexism and the great change in government when Labor gets in after the long rule of the Liberal party. But it is also topical in that it features an act of terrorism and the way that the government, the police, the media and ASIO handle it.
Journalist Anna pursues the story and gets further than many of her colleagues, sometimes because of, not despite being one of the few females working in this area.
It looks at the history between the Croats and the Serbs from all sides, both in their own countries and in Australia, and the reasons behind the animosity between the groups.
Real characters are scattered through the novel including Gough Whitlam, Lionel Murphy, Laurie Oakes, George Negus, Richard Carleton and Michelle Gratton.
Jones has delivered a fast paced drama/mystery/crime/political thriller that could be fiction but is based on real events, clearly showing his knowledge of the people involved and the research behind it.