As an Aussie reader with noir my genre of choice, I've long been craving an outback noir full of dusty murderous open spaces and locals who could shake your hand as easily as they could take your life. In ORIGIN, the first of the Wolf Creek prequel novels by authors Sterns and McLean I get just that, and then some.
Jackaroo Mick Taylor, who later appears on the big screen in the feature film as a more seasoned killer in WOLF CREEK, one of the best Australian horror movies made, gets his taste for blood through an all too easy penchant for murder while on a remote Western Australia sheep station. Its here he also assumes a vigilante role, hunting down his peers and inadvertently helping the police in the process.
This could've easily conformed to the stereotypical horror and followed the blood stained trail blazed by the movie, yet the authors took Mick down a deep and darker path than his older big screen counter part and set him loose amongst others of his ilk and drunken big city traveling business men.
Despite there being a high degree of violence and explicit sex, (Mick's love interest is a pretty well written and complex character in her own right), ORIGIN provides a surprising amount of depth to the core character, documenting the events that slowly turned his heart black and honed his skill for hunt into what they ultimately become.
There are some nice head nods to Wolf Creek too which, as a fan of the feature film, was a nice easter egg.
I couldn't read this fast enough and will delve deep into the second of the prequel novels in the not too distant future.
Australia, this is the penultimate outback noir novel.