Review: The Rush by Michelle Prak

The Rush is a first-rate outback thriller, and its excellence is all down to Michelle Prak’s meticulous storytelling choreography. 

Books of this type require rapid assemblage. You’ve got to set up all the pieces quickly but organically. And when the shit hits the fan—which is what we paid the price of admission for—characters can’t feel like they’re being controlled by invisible manipulation. Nothing grinds the storytelling machinery of a thriller like blatantly authored coincidence. 

We open in medias res when Quinn discovers the body of a man crumpled in the middle of a deserted rural road, then whirl back to the previous day, where we’re introduced to a small cast of young road-trippers travelling from South Australia to the Northern Territory. A menacing storm threatens to derail their plans, but they’re determined to push through and make it to the Pindarry, where Quinn happens to work, which is operated by Andrea and her husband Matt. 

As the road-tripping quartet wind their way towards the iconic and isolated pub and their relationships begin to sour, Andrea is left alone with her young son when Matt elects to help a neighbour prepare for the coming storm. Then trouble arrives in the form of a masochistic bikie. Prak alternates between perspectives virtuosically, maintaining a constant tenor of menace as she brings everything together in a breathless climax. There is no glory in its violence; most of it happens off-page, and we observe only its brutal consequences, which actually makes it more discomforting. Her debut is tightly-crafted and ferociously paced, the kind of thriller that should come with a warning: don’t start it at bedtime or you’ll be up all night.

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