I am extremely glad I selected this book at the last minute to take on holidays. It is not something I would usually pick up. Having had an excessive amount of unwanted exposure to cricket through my brothers the title did not engage me. The story definitely did – by the end I found it hard to put down.
I confess that I was not immediately enthused by the opening paragraphs. The reader is introduced to Darren, the narrator, when he is in a compromising and vulnerable position: beaten, trussed up and gagged in the boot of a car. Darren is reflecting on his life as he is driven to what is most likely his final meeting.
Although the self-absorbed Darren is not a character I would usually respect or connect with, I found myself being drawn into his story. I could identify with Darren’s childhood memories where Darren and his brother resembled the young boys that used to cluster on our back lawn perfecting their techniques and picturing themselves at the MCG. The characters were full of life and reminded me of people I have met. The story had good pace and was full of surprises.
I became absorbed in the story of Darren’s life and was innocently carried along towards the unexpected conclusion where I realised that small clues and questions had been woven into the narrative. These seemingly innocent details began to fall into place in the final pages as many unexplained events fall into place. Gradually Darren comes to the grim realisation that he was unwittingly a player in a much more ruthless game and he hasn’t played by the rules.