A mall team of five people, including a woman named Rachalel Foreman, were sent by a mining company to investigate a particular area within the Drysdale National Park in the Kimberley region of Australia. But after an attack by a militaristic environmentalist group, all of them went missing, presumed dead. Rachael’s husband Andrew wasn’t content with that explanation, and went looking for his wife – only to find a USB stick with what appeared to be her memoirs. These are suspected to be a forgery, and for legal reasons must be kept secret, but Andrew and Rachael’s parents are persuaded to let the book’s narrator read the memoirs and tell the story as the fictional tale of a character named Helen. This book is the result.
IN THE NAME OF THE KIMBERLEY is the story of a dedicated environmentalist trying to find a path in the world and a way to save as much of her beloved wilderness as possible. In the course of her exploration, she encounters groups and people with a wide variety of approaches to environmentalism, from an anti-capitalist organization, to a group founded by a man with a gift for building bridges and persuasion, to a more militaristic organization, to one seeking to give an Australian Aboriginal voice to development of what is, after all, properly their land and their home.
It is these encounters which mostly form the meat of this book, which ends up being almost a comparative discussion of the various approaches and their perspectives. Rachael/Helen is an appealing point of view character in this situation because of her youth, dedication to her cause, and openness to new experiences and ideas. The competing ideas are discussed with more or less of the protagonist’s (and author’s?) sympathy, but most of them are presented with both positive and negative arguments, which gives the story a thought-provoking openness. The framing of the book allows the author to set up the mystery and the suspense before the main story even starts, enough to keep the reader interested through the somewhat meandering beginning of Rachael’s memoirs. Her story gets wilder and more action-packed as it goes on, though, only to end on a rather startling cliffhanger which hopefully will be resolved in a promised sequel. As it is, this is a fascinating beginning, but feels more like an introduction than a fully-fledged tale in its own right.
IN THE NAME OF THE KIMBERLEY is an intriguing and promising first book in a series – but it does not feel quite complete on its own.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader