Andrew Croome’s debut novel, Document Z, looked at the world of Australian diplomats during the Cold War using the prism of the Petrov case. His second novel, Midnight Empire, is utterly contemporary, all about technology, encryption and the remotely piloted drone planes being used by the US military in the ‘War on Terror’. Daniel Carter is a bright young technician who works for a small Canberra-based technology company, LinkLock. LinkLock has invented cutting-edge new encryption software that the US military wants to trial in the drone planes, and Daniel is sent to the Creech Air Force base near Las Vegas to oversee its installation. When not working all hours at Creech, Daniel is put up in a hotel in Las Vegas, where he starts playing poker and meets Polish-born poker pro Ania at the tables. As Daniel’s relationship with Ania develops, pilots attached to the drone project at Creech begin to die in mysterious circumstances when off-duty, and Ania’s past returns to haunt her. Daniel is caught up in a violent world where he doesn’t know who to trust or to turn to for help. This is an above-average thriller, full of complexity and moral ambiguity. Even on the last page, the reader is no clearer than Daniel as to who are ‘the bad guys’.
Tim Coronel is the former publisher of Bookseller+Publisher. This review first appeared in the June/July issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.