2017 Reviews · non-fiction · true crime

Book Review: The Contractor by Mark Abernethy

Title: The Contractorcontractor ss.jpg

Author:  Mark Abernethy

Published: July 25th 2017

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Pages: 368

Genres:  Non Fiction, True Crime

RRP: $29.99

Meet Mike. Runs a building site, drives a ute, likes a beer, loves his nail-gun.

But Mike is hiding in plain sight. When the Pentagon call him in as ‘Big Unit’, he’s another kind of contractor – one as handy with a Colt M4 as he is with a Skilsaw, a man as accustomed to danger, death, and pain as he is to a hammer and nails.

In six action-packed true stories we follow a man who left foreign intelligence for a life ‘on the tools’, only to discover there’s too many dangerous scenarios and terrible people still out there. The good guys need a James Bond in Blundstones. They need The Contractor.

Tradie. Spy. Big Unit.

Follow Big Unit as he goes undercover to save a family trapped by an ISIS-run drug cartel in the seedy back streets of Northern Pakistan to terrorist-besieged Paris to a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with Australia’s most wanted murderer.

My review:

Meet Mike Daly, a true blue Aussie builder or ‘tradie’ by day and by night, a contractor of sorts sent to ‘fix’ things up. Australia’s answer to James Bond ensures that bad situations are contained and bad people simply vanish. The Contractor is a non fiction fused with true crime offering, containing six tales involving intelligence operations.

The Contractor, told by Mark Abernethy, is a riveting collection of six different tales of counter terrorism, based on the true stories relayed to Mark by Mike Daly (pseudonym). These high octane, action based short stories are grounded on actual events that occurred when Mike Daly attended to each of these high risk operations. The stories are fast and dangerous. They include retrieving a whole expat family from Pakistan, a manhunt at Dubbo zoo for the notorious murderer Malcolm Naden, bugging a presidential palace in Jakarta and capturing a top gangster in Cambodia. Each of these tales reveals much about the gritty underworld of terrorists, criminals and the people who work behind the scenes to thwart their plans.

What boggled me most about this collection of stories is how simple Mike Daly’s life is. He is normal everyday building contractor from Melbourne, going about his day-to-day business with a loving wife to support him. It makes me wonder just how many other everyday common professionals are harbouring a secret alter ego life! Mike is a one of kind guy, with a colourful background, which Mark Abernethy works to unpack through the progression of the six varied tales contained in this collection.

Throughout the progression of this collection, Mark Abernethy works to build a picture of this suburban tradie with a brave skills set. From his background as a former government employee, working specifically in private intelligence, we learn how Mike developed his fine skills set to become a man in demand. It is quite a fascinating story how an ordinary bloke who has a penchant for VB and dearly loves his ute, has become a private intelligence expert.

I liked the style of narration Mark Abernenthy, the author of The Contractor employs in this collection. As a ghost writer, journalist and the author of six spy thrillers, he is certainly the man for the job and bringing this fascinating collection of stories to the floor. Abernethy has an accessible tone to his writing and each of his stories are explained clearly. I felt a sense of adventure and exhilaration while reading each of these stories, especially the very gripping Malcolm Naden chase.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about secretive operations. Further afield, the story ‘Paris Au Go-Go’ has a colourful and international flavour. This particular case revealed an intricate terrorist operation and exposed the involving nature of the delicate infiltration that took place to crack this case. Abernethy applies great observational detail to this story and all six of the cases he presents to his reader.

The Contractor, as told by Mark Abernethy, is definitely a tale that would appeal to fans of spy based novels such as Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, just to name just a few. The Contractor is informative, highly readable and carries the reader into a world of counter terrorism, a world many of us would never entertain. This is one book true crime enthusiasts need to add to their collection.

The Contractor by Mark Abernethy was published in July 2017 by Pan Macmillan Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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