Book review: The Fix by Nick Earls (& I wish I wrote that)

Book blurb

The Fix coverJosh Lang went to London with investigative journalism on his mind, but he carved out a reputation as a fixer instead and mastered the art of spinning any client out of a crisis.

Now he’s home in Brisbane, and this time the job is supposed to be good news. The client is a law firm, the talent is Ben Harkin, and the story is the Star of Courage Ben is about to be awarded for his bravery in a siege.

But it was Josh’s messy part with Ben that was a big part of his move to London in the first place, and the closer he gets to Ben’s story the more the cracks start to show.

Throw in a law student who’s an exotic dancer by night, and a mini-golf tour of the Gold Coast, and Josh’s pursuit of the truth becomes way more complicated than he’d ever expected.

My thoughts

Nick Earls is one of my favourite authors, and although he strayed from familiar territory with The Fix, it definitely didn’t disappoint. For me, one of Nick’s major strengths is creating believable, relatable characters. This has been the case for every single one of his books I’ve read, including this one.

The main character Josh is dissatisfied with his life but not prepared to do much about it. This may sound like a dull protagonist, but Nick’s sharp and witty narrative makes you empathise with Josh from the get-go and root for him to put the fortune cookies down and make something of his life.

As Josh begins work at the law firm and is forced into close quarters with Ben, a friend who betrayed him years earlier, Josh must determine whether it’s his past with Ben that’s causing him to question the siege story’s truthfulness, or whether something really is suspect. And if you’re anything like me, you will have as much trouble uncovering the truth as Josh.

My favourite part of this book was not any particular scene, or any particular character. Rather, it was the overall ‘vibe’ of the book – that truth is a fluid notion and that just when you think you’ve pinned it down, it changes shape again. At the book launch, Nick said that he read the Great Gatsby numerous times before writing The Fix, in order to see how F Scott Fitzgerald managed to create such an enigmatic character. I believe his research paid off – although Ben Harkin plays a large role in this book, he remains mysterious and unknowable right to the end.

Another aspect of The Fix that I really enjoyed was the Brisbane setting. There’s nothing like reading scenes set in places you’ve been in the past few weeks, places you can picture with absolute clarity. South East Queensland is such a beautiful part of the world, it’s a perfect setting for all types of fiction, and I love that Nick consistently chooses to set his novels here in his home town.

My only gripe with The Fix is that I found it a little wordy at times. There were a few instances where I felt the phrasing could have been tighter, but this may be because I’m currently in editing mode so I’m analysing each word choice a lot more closely than usual.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely, but only to those who enjoy a character-based novel that doesn’t have a twist every ten pages. If you enjoy a leisurely plot that builds its tension subtly, rather than hitting you over the head with it, then make sure you get your hands on The Fix. And when you do, say hello to Josh for me. I miss his self-depreciating wit already.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I wish I wrote that – quote

“I wasn’t sure if this was for Ben at all or just good publicity, the firm’s unspecial name going out there, hitched to an act of bravery. It felt as if I had left Brisbane as Anakin and come back as Darth, rebuilt into something infinitely cynical and talking amorally about heroes in my breathy metallic voice.”

Why do I like this quote?

Because as a communication professional, I can (unfortunately) relate to Josh’s cynicism. Is this really something wonderful? Or is it just a wonderful story? I’ve asked myself that more than once. Plus I like the Anakin/Darth analogy. It’s clever. 🙂

Your turn

Have you read The Fix? If so, what did you think? If not, do you think you will?



Filed under Book review

15 responses to “Book review: The Fix by Nick Earls (& I wish I wrote that)

  1. I haven’t read The Fix, but now I think I should! My to-read pile is going to take over the house at this rate 🙂

  2. Nice thorough review, Cally. (Like always!) 😛 I like the quote, too!

  3. Thanks for the review. I haven’t read it, but I’m always looking for interesting new books.

  4. Hi Cally. Fellow Aussie here. And fellow campaigner. I’ve just signed my first contract and the book will be released next financial year. Will check back in and see you’re still reviewing.

    • Congratulations on your publishing deal, Pauline. That’s fantastic news. Definitely drop by again next year (and in the meantime!) – I have no doubt I’ll still be reviewing next financial year. 🙂

  5. Sounds great. Mr Earls does have a certain way with words!

  6. Robyn Martin

    I have just finished reading The Fix. It’s been a long time since I read Zig Zag Street which really impressed me. Firstly for the local setting and secondly for Nick’s writing style. It may be that I am much further away in age now from the characters, but The Fix did not grab me quite as much. I agree with the favourite quote you chose Cally and maybe my mild disappointment was due to the expectation of many more quotes like that. What I enjoy the most about Nick’s writing is that he sets his books in SE Qld and has a knack with descriptions that are economic with words but put the reader right in the picture. It certainly made my bus trips more enjoyable.

  7. Pingback: Location: truth or fiction? | Cally Jackson Writes

  8. Ian Wynne

    Just finished “The Fix” and enjoyed it very much. Nice to see Nick venturing a little outside his “tried and trusted” format. I thought I had the plot line of this one all worked out less than half way through and was thinking “ho hum” but still liking his style. It didn’t take long before I realised this one had more twists in the tail than a snake on steroids. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure that the last twist wasn’t just for the hell of putting in one more twist because Nick didn’t like the way it was ending, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
    I just love the damaged and insecure way his characters approach relationships (he has a real knack of resonating with our insecurities) and this book was no exception. Weird, way-out-there characters but they’re still believable.
    My favourite from Nick is still “Perfect Skin”.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Ian. I guessed some of the twists but many of them caught me by surprise too – which is just what you want. I totally agree about Nick’s ability to portray people’s insecurities in a humorous, empathetic way. Looking forward to seeing what he writes next!

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