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