Imbroglio by Alana Woods
Imbroglio is award-winning author Alana Woods’ second thriller.
WHAT DRIVES A PERSON to extreme actions? Actions that others, if they knew, would have difficulty understanding.
What’s in Noel Valentine’s past that impels her to save a stranger’s life knowing that it could endanger hers?
In hot tropical Australia Noel pulls one man from a burning car but is unable to save his passenger. When the stranger she saved shows up back in her home town of Sydney and asks for a place to stay, why does Noel agree? Especially given he could have been an assassin hired to kill his passenger. Especially given that she’s pitching to win as a client the medical technology company that seems to be central to whatever is going on. A company that both assassin and victim had connections with. A company with questionable markets and equally questionable front men.
Imbroglio is an understatement for the mess she very quickly finds herself in.
About Alana Woods:
Until I left full-time work in February 2004 I was a professional editor and eventually became Director of Publishing at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The photo to the right shows me at Parliament House with the Chairman, Prof Allen Fels, the day the ACCC came into being.
We now spend part of our time in the UK with Simone, who lives in West Sussex with her husband and three young children. That’s me with my oldest UK grandson at Worthing, a beachside town just along the coast from Brighton. We had fish and chips for lunch.
My fiction work includes two published novels, both literary suspense, and a collection of short stories.
My non-fiction work includes two works. One is a guide to writing good fiction: 25 essential writing tips: guide to writing good fiction.
The second is a family medical history diary in which you can keep a record of everything of a medical nature that happens in your family.
My first novel, Automaton, won the Australian Fast Books Prize for Best Fiction in 2003. It was also nominated by Sisters In Crime for the 2004 Davitt Award, which is for the best Australian female crime fiction for the year. The story was inspired by my five years working with the Commonwealth Court Reporting Service in Canberra during which I spent many a day in the Supreme Court recording the agonies of those unfortunate enough to be in the dock and their families, who would watch and usually suffer in silence. The photo shows me at the award presentation with the ABC’s Peter Ross, who was the judge.
What They Are Saying About Imbroglio:
Review by Jim Blakley: Imbroglio is an absorbing plunge into the life of Noel Valentine: an ad executive who boldly pulls helpless David Cameron from a burning car. Normally such an act of courage would merit a heroine’s welcome and afford her the accompanying spoils. But instead, Noel’s deeds simply spoil her life. For soon, the man she saved–and the man who saved her job while she recovered–press into action every ounce of Noel’s determination as she finds herself a damsel in distress. One spinning out of control and being dragged down by the powerful currents of a consuming conspiracy of corporate greed and lust. It confuses a clear view of who is Noel’s friend and who is her foe. That is the suspenseful essence of “Imbroglio.”
Alana Woods skillfully constructs an authentic conspiracy-mystery that shines with strong characterization throughout, particularly where leading characters Noel Valentine and David Cameron are concerned. Noel is a thoroughly modern woman (whose traits shift appropriately from quiet and careful to driven and a bit hasty when necessary). Her voice and actions also come across as believably feminine in quality. David Cameron’s physical and mental recovery (and his careful immersion into the plot) is handled with deliberate attention to detail, enhancing “Imbroglio’s” nebulous air. And Woods’s villains are suitably sinful, but not easily seen–perfect for setting up one of the story’s biggest surprises.
Also admirable is the story’s vivid setting: a modern, cosmopolitan Australia. Centered largely in metropolitan Sydney and Cairns, the scenic cityscape provides a welcomed relief from the outback, jack-and-jillaroo station image that many foreigners too-easily associate all of “the land down under” with.
“Imbroglio’s” only flaw is its rather involved network of secondary characters. While the definition of imbroglio (a confusing situation) would justify an elaborate cast to handle the task, most classic mystery-suspenses have a faster, more direct pace. Imbroglio’s secondary players sometimes detract from that point a-to-point b flow, thus stalling the building suspense and intensity in places.
So overall, if you want a quick, roller coaster ride of a read, “Imbroglio” probably won’t do it for you. But if you’re looking for an intelligently-written, maturely-crafted conspiracy-mystery (and one also wonderfully set against the sumptuous scenery of rarely seen cities) “Imbroglio” is a satisfying, high-quality novel well-worth losing yourself in.