Eye for an Eye (Australian Historical Saga #2), by David Field

Eight stars

Since discovering his writing, I have been a fan of David Field and told anyone who would listen. Having penned a variety of series on numerous topics, Field truly has something for everyone. Field’s latest tetralogy centres around the development of Australia, going from penal colony to settled country with its own struggles. In this second novel, the focus is on Matthew Bradbury, first generation Australian, and his attempts to define himself. Matthew pursues his dreams and becomes a police constable, protecting the region to which he is assigned. When he takes on the case of a missing child, Matthew and the woman who seeks his help become embroiled in more than hunting down a kidnapper. It will surely have a long lasting impact, no matter which way things turn out. Field does it again, pulling the reader in which this short novel that educates and entertains in equal measure.

Matthew Bradbury has grown up in his father’s shadow for long enough. He wishes to definite himself by his own dreams and aspirations, but the elder, Daniel Bradbury, is having none of it. Having left the family home, Matthew takes up as a volunteer constable, in hopes of showing his determination. It’s only when his sister, Rebecca, pleads with him to come home, even for a brief time, that Matthew must face his family and decide what he wants to do.

Chosen to take over a constabulary near Sydney, Matthew agrees to take on the role, partially to fulfil his goals, but also to show his family that he is worth his mettle. When Matthew begins looking into some ghostly events around the community, he discovers Hannah Newcombe, long thought dead. She tells a heart wrenching story about how her husband was murdered by a gang of outlaws and her baby kidnapped. While Hannah has taken justice into her own hands, there is one member of the group left to kill, Phoebe Jackson. With a fire in her belly and Matthew willing to assist, they work to locate Phoebe and the baby.

Juggling his daily role and this special assignment, Matthew Bradbury finds himself connecting with Hannah in ways other than as a worried mother. Leery to share too much, Hannah remains guarded, but cannot deny the connection as well. When Phoebe crosses their path, it is a battle to the end, all in hopes of bringing some justice to a situation that has been filled with blood.

If that were not enough, Matthew must also contend with the rising sentiment of animosity by townsfolk towards the indigenous population. Unwilling to simply drum the original inhabitants of the land out to the bush, Matthew must walk a precarious line and keep order, or risk complete disarray. He hopes only to keep the peace and show his superiors that he has what it takes to maintain order for the time being. Field does a wonderful job at keeping the reader hooked and eager to learn with every page turn.

David Field is an author whose passion is evident in his writing. Having done a great deal of research to present topics so succinctly, Field entertains with his witty narrative and wonderful dialogue, leaving the reader feeling as though they are in the middle of the action.This second novel was vastly different from the series debut, but did much to show me how major issues are beginning to take shape in the new colony, with real struggles and worrisome social division. Exploring the second generation, one can only surmise that Field will use subsequent offspring to expound on evolving issues, as some epic authors have done before him in their own epic series about newly colonised territories. Field holds his own and I would say he stands among those authors of note.

Matthew Bradbury surely takes up the central protagonist role in this piece, though, like the debut, there is a strong female who also has a significant place and cannot be discounted. The character development and backstory of Matthew Bradbury and Hannah Newcombe is revealed throughout, as Field peppers the narrative with both. Their connection is undeniable, though it sees a little more strained than that of Matthew’s parents in the previous novel. Both Matthew and Hannah come into their own and complement one another well, leaving the reader to bask in the greatness of this budding relationship, even if both are hesitant to admit it from the outset.

David Field knows his stuff and presents it in a compact and easy to digest fashion. The narrative flows wonderfully, with varied characters that entertain on every page. Shorter chapters help with the momentum and complement the plot twists, which weave fiction with fact to create an entertaining mix. I have never been disappointed with Field or his writing and this series is shaping up to be something great. Bring on the next book, as I am eager to see where we are headed.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for such a good series to date. Australia has always been of interest to me and I feel right there (though I am scrambling to slip under a tree, with my freckled skin!).