2017 Reviews · action · Adventure · Australian · biography · non-fiction · true crime · war

Book Review: At Hell’s Gate by Mark Abernethy

Title: At Hell’s Gateat hells gate small

Author:  Mark Abernethy

Published: November 14th 2017

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Pages: 336

Genres:  Non Fiction, Biography, True Crime, War and Combat

RRP: $29.99

“I deal with heavy, dangerous people. People who can bring a society undone.”

The Contractor returns.

Mike is a big unit. He builds houses and drives a ute. But he isn’t your typical tradie.

When a client calls he downs tools and flies into the hot zone in his other guise – that of an elite private intelligence contractor.

In four high-octane adventures, The Contractor takes on a counter-surveillance gig in Singapore, a jungle ambush on a bomb-maker in South-East Asia, a cannonball run against the Taliban in Kabul and a gun deal on a floating armoury in the Indian Ocean.

Will Mike make it back to his BBQ and building site? Or will fate deliver The Contractor At Hell’s Gate?

My review:

At Hell’s Gate offers readers a chance to revisit the colourful and action packed life of Mike Daly (alias) of Mark Abernethy’s previous release, The Contractor. In The Contractor, readers were introduced to Mike Daly, a quintessential Aussie ‘tradie’ who splits his time between building houses and fulfilling private intelligence contracts. At Hell’s Gate is a scathing and true account of Mike Daly’s life, covering four covert operations.

At Hell’s Gate, a told by Australian novelist Mark Abernethy, is a high-octane collection of four separate stories that all cover Mike Daly’s counter terrorism efforts. These four stories have been pulled straight from the first hand experiences of real life action hero Mike Daly. Novelist and journalist Mark Abernethy has worked his storytelling skills on these adventures and transformed them onto the pages of At Hell’s Gate. The stories encompass accelerated and perilous episodes in Mike’s life. They include an all important counter terrorist operation in Singapore, a jaunt in the jungle of Indonesia for bomb creators, a stint in Kabul involving the Taliban and an ocean themed venture involving a lot of guns! It’s a thrill ride when you step into the shoes of Mike Daly, through Mark Abernethy’s expert narration.

At the heart of this medley of true stories is ‘big unit’ Mike Daly. In Abernethy’s first effort featuring Mike Daly, The Contractor, I was quite taken aback by just how down to earth Mike Daly comes across on the page – despite living an alter ego as an all important counter terrorism expert. In At Hell’s Gate, we continue to see the how the adrenaline fuelled moments in Daly’s life are offset by his personal life. These lighter moments in the book give the audience a true insight into this remarkable figure. I have to say I enjoyed Mike’s outlook on life, his personal life shenanigans and his interest in home renovations. At Hell’s Gate goes that one step further than its predecessor and delves a little more into the fascinating personal life of a man who lives life on the edge.

As with The Contractor, I appreciated Mark Abernethy’s mode of storytelling, which he applies well to his second book based on Mike Daly. Abernethy’s solid background in writing novels for the military and spy thriller genres, has put him in good stead for releasing another gripping set of four entertaining and informative stories. Abernethy’s style of narration is highly visual and he is knowledgeable of the subject areas at hand. There are also moments when he slips into larrikin like humour, showing us just how normal Mike Daly is, despite the almost implausible situations he finds himself in. I felt a slight sense of unease reading a couple of these stories, knowing just how close we are to be touched by dangerous terrorists, bomb enthusiasts, gun wielding bandits and general low life figures of society.

At Hell’s Gate is a solid, action packed follow on to Abernethy’s previous release, The Contractor, which also features the hero of these tales, Mike Daly. At Hell’s Gate provides the reader with a unique and dynamic account of four counter terrorism missions. After following Mike Daly’s undertakings in both At Hell’s Gate and The Contractor, I hope I see him make a screen debut, as I believe his experiences would transfer well onto film.

At Hell’s Gate by Mark Abernethy was published in November 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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