I was a bit nervous going into Kill Your Brother by Jack Heath as we’re told the premise: it’s a bit of a kill or be killed kinda scenario and I had flashbacks to Eeny Meeny by MJ Arlidge, a novel in which couples or pairs are captured and have to do just that.
But Heath goes further here. Thankfully it isn’t just a gladiator-style fight to the death, but far more complex – both in terms of our characters and the depth of their backstories and personalities as well as the events unfolding in the present.Kill Your Brother
by Jack Heath
Published by Allen & Unwin
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
After months of searching, disgraced athlete Elise Glyk has finally found her missing brother, Callum. He's being held in a backyard prison by Stephanie Hartnell, a former sheep farmer with an axe to grind. But before she can free Callum or call for help, Elise is captured and locked up alongside him.
Stephanie Hartnell doesn't have room for two prisoners, and she has nothing against Elise. But she needs to make sure Elise can't go to the police. So she offers her a deal: kill Callum, and you're free to go.
Of course, Elise won't even consider the deal. No way. It's unthinkable. But she's running out of time to find another way out. And her brother may not have told her the whole truth ...
Before this was a novel it was an audiobook and I’d read a lot of great things about it. Other than a brief stint half a dozen years ago that involved me driving long distances (solo) for work, I’m not a listener of books (or podcasts for that matter). So I’d missed out, until Heath extended into a novel.*
Elise has fake credentials as a private investigator when captured here so Stephanie has no idea of the relationship between brother and sister. In an effort to save herself and her brother, and because Stephanie seems to have some sense of morality when it comes to killing an innocent, Elise suggests that they confirm Callum is guilty of Stephanie’s accusations before taking further action.
We’re offered some interesting insight – in snippets – from Elise about their childhood and the relationship with their parents. It’s not often something we’re privy to for victims…. rather it’s usually more relevant for perpetrators of crimes – why they are the way they are.
I appreciated that Heath dives right into the action and we don’t spend a lot of time getting to the pointy bit so there’s no question of a lagging plot. The pace is set from the book’s opening and readers are engaged from the start.
Although we realise we’re yet to learn more about Elise and why the former Olympic hopeful has become a (national) pariah, everything else seems straight-forward; Callum’s been kidnapped by someone hellbent on retribution and who seemingly isn’t shy about killing.
But slowly things change and therein lies the strength of Heath’s work.
It’s not just about the ‘action’ rather there’s a deeper insight – into the assumptions we make about those we love. How well we think we know them and the expectations we have of them. And that’s reflected in most of the relationships here, not just the siblings and their family.
Heath comments in the acknowledgements that his own brother saw the twist coming. I did here as well, but not how it was delivered… which won’t make sense unless you’ve read the book (so sorry about my vagueness!).
Although I didn’t feel the same level of connection I do with Heath’s series featuring Timothy Blake, I enjoyed this standalone book and appreciated the surprising direction (in terms of action and morals) in which he takes us.
Kill Your Brother by Jack Heath will be published in Australia on 30 November 2021 by Allen & Unwin.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.
* I tried to guess what was added from the audiobook to extend it and wonder if it was the chapters featuring Elise’s backstory.