‘Saving Tara Goodwin’ is a fast-paced mystery thriller, set against a murky backdrop of espionage and secrecy. It details the frantic hunt for answers after a top-secret file is violated, which soon turns into a quest to save the titular Tara Goodwin.
The novel reaches out and instantly grips its readers, kicking off with a short introductory chapter that immediately establishes the lies, corruption, death and sinister phone calls that will feature throughout. Like all good novels of the crime genre, Harrington’s style is crisp and marvellously accurate. The gritty details are presented in high definition, with vivid action sequences and rough, realistic dialogue. There is a nice balance of specific terminology, offset by bursts of occasional wry humour.
What I liked most about this book was the characterisation. Harrington has a gift for intricately crafted, concise descriptions that really bring his wide cast of characters to life. I felt that I knew everyone on a deeply personal level, a remarkable achievement considering the amount and range of characters present. My favourite was action-man Frank Lewis, with his enticing mixture of skilled professionalism, duty and moments of warm compassion. His social skills are magnificent; he seems to be able to connect with anyone he wants to, and his banter with partner Monty always serves to lighten the mood.
At first, I found myself wondering about the wide array of military, government and secret service personnel who seemed to be almost exclusively male. At first glance, the novel seemed to be shaping up to be the long “conveyor belt of macho-men,” prophesised early on by one of the female characters. However, as the novel progresses, an assortment of well-rounded, complex female characters emerges and share in the action. I really liked tough American Christiana Levitt, with her questionable moral compass and confidence in her vast abilities.
‘Saving Tara Goodwin’ is a rollercoaster of twists and turns, with suitably villainous villains and heroes who are not entirely perfect, just like in real life. The against-all-the-odds, how-will-they-possibly-manage-to-pull-this-off plotline is great for keeping readers guessing and reading late into the night (I certainly did!). I would recommend this book to anyone who likes good crime mystery thrillers and learning about the underhand shenanigans of secret government (and criminal) organisations.