With the incident at the Stag Hotel behind them, James Macdonald has
settled into his Tartan Identity in the Tasmanian Village of Ardrossan with
former Police Sergeant Edward Fraser sharing his house. They answer a call for
help from former Constable Michael Gillespie who shared their adventure that
evening and is now in trouble with his new life in Queensland. Identity and
Mr Maslow follows the three of them and other characters from Tartan
Identity as they all try to achieve fulfilment of their hierarchy of needs.
So, gentle reader, we come to the third, and as far
as I have planned it, the last episode in the Identity series of
I was content with two, but then the ideas for the
plot and sub plots in this one started to brew in my fertile imagination and I
couldn’t let them go; or they wouldn’t let go of me. Something kept nagging at
me … what if?
Hopefully, even if you haven’t read the first two
books in what is now a trilogy, this story will make some sense; although being
the third book in the series it is inevitable references are made to the earlier
ones. You might even be prompted to read the first two books and see how James
Macdonald and Edward Fraser came to be sharing James’ house in the little
Tasmanian village of Ardrossan; which is where we start.
I have offered up my customary range of situations
for you to make moral judgements about what the characters do, and in the
process thrown in a couple of what the baseball players call curveballs.
Most of all this one is, I hope, fun. There are red herrings (although one of
them is pink) to intrigue or infuriate you as well.
At the time of writing no one has yet contacted me
with their guess about the identity of the Tasmanian village that Ardrossan is
based on. It does exist if you want to track it down. I’ll give you some clues.
Ardrossan House isn’t there, it’s been enlarged and transported from another
town in Tasmania and plonked onto the hill; and the real pub is a bit bigger
than the one in the books. James’ cottage does exist (roughly as he first found
it in Tartan Identity at the time of writing). It has been sold after
some years on offer – so if you fancied it you have missed out on that
The place near Cairns where some of the action in
this novel is set does not, to the best of my knowledge, exist; although you
never know. The general environment certainly does and the elements that make
the fictitious site do, even if they are in other disparate places.
The most excellent Pullman Reef Hotel at Cairns which
features in the story is in my humble opinion most worthy of your consideration
for your accommodation if you are visiting the city. There was no sponsorship
involved in my selecting it for the novel; this is not a paid advertisement. If
any reader knows the establishment well I apologise that I have taken some small
liberties with its geography for the purposes of the tale.
The characters in the book all exist, or at least
bits of them do and I trust the amalgam I have made of the bits in each ring
true for you. If anyone feels like picking the characters up and writing
Ardrossan – the Next Generation or something similar, you are most welcome.
Just contact Zeus Publications and we can talk about your making a small
increase to my standard of living. Otherwise, I trust you will enjoy Identity
and Mr Maslow.
Tasmania had been bloody cold in the winter but even
though he was now in the tropics former Senior Constable Michael Gillespie woke
feeling even colder than he had ever felt down south. Once his mind had
established that he was awake enough to actually feel cold he began to appraise
where he was and the condition he was in.
He found that besides being cold it was also somewhat
dark, so he concluded that he had to be in one of the rooms in the old concrete
fortifications, or it had to have been some time since his world had been turned
upside down, or both.
His six foot four body did not seem to be immediately
responding very well to any suggestion he made to it that it move, so he looked
around using his eyes to better ascertain the exact geography of his location.
The first thing he saw were piles of upturned paint cans, one of which had split
open when trashed by his visitors. The open one had sent a six-litre tongue of
light cream plastic paint across the floor to where he lay. His gaze followed,
with the painful turning of his neck, the bulging flow path of the paint back
towards himself and he saw that it ended a few inches from his right thigh.
There it had stopped and hardened against a counter flow of congealed blood.
Quite a bit of blood. Hmm!
Gillespie tried to get his right arm underneath his
side, and did so with a struggle, tides of painful protest coming from the
muscles in his back and the arm itself. Bruised but not broken he said to
himself now remembering that he had been attacked and had resisted, at least for
a bit. Being relatively young, good natured, an ex-copper with a degree in
criminology and a major in psychology, and speaking several languages, some
quite fluently, had done nothing to protect him from a coward punch, or a bang
over the head with a six-litre can of paint swung by its handle with intent. If
that was what indeed had hit him. He fancied that, if his memory was not
completely false, that indeed had been what had happened.
He tried to move other bits of himself, one by one,
and found that his body hurt all over. His right leg in particular did not seem
to want to function very well, and if he let go of the floor the world tended to
sway around a lot. He was sitting/lying uncomfortably on his wallet which was in
the back pocket of his shorts and he could feel pain from where it had been sat
on for whatever length of time he had sat, or indeed lain, on it. He was also
conscious of nausea. Probably a touch of concussion he concluded. The fact that
his wallet was still where it had been before the assault suggested that robbery
was not his assailant’s motive.
The minimal movement he had made had appeared to
start his leg bleeding again, although it wasn’t pumping blood out. He could
tell because it had been a warm tropical day before the excrement hit the
rotating blades and he had only been wearing a T shirt with his shorts as he was
working inside. Usually shorts alone sufficed at this latitude, at this time of
The shape of the wound in his thigh was not clear but
its location was evident. He concluded the machete had not severed an artery –
that’s right the fucker had a machete didn’t he – but obviously he had been
content with wounding, or had even been scared by what he had done and run.
Presumably his visitors had been sent only to put the frighteners on him, not
kill him. It did not occur to him that there was a third option; they wanted him
incapacitated and off the property for a while if not able to get him off
He again considered his dizziness. I’m suffering from
shock as well as concussion he decided.
The satellite phone that was his principal way of
communicating with the outside world was in his truck and the Toyota was at
least fifty metres away, and uphill. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to make
it even if he crawled and fainted, and crawled and fainted, his way to it. I’m
possibly going to fucking die here he concluded.
Think. The flow of blood from his leg could not be
allowed to continue for long or he would pass out again; perhaps permanently;
but getting help was as urgent as wasting efforts on stemming the flow.
Perhaps he should try to take of his T shirt and make
a dressing of sorts. The feedback from his bruised body suggested that the idea
might not be achievable in the short term. Moving his upper body to that the
extent that he had already tried generated a great deal of pain; and he did not
feel that he had the strength to rip his T shirt off. He might have at least one
On the other hand.
Gillespie struggled, scooting on his right buttock,
painfully pushing his body with his left leg against the roughness of the
unfinished floor, to the pile of orange life jackets and fishing gear in the
corner. He had been lazy and not taken them to the other blockhouse but only
carried them this far from his boat to put them under cover after the last time
he had gone out to get a feed. He batted them out of the way until he found what
he wanted … and then as the world started to turn again he sensed the effort
might have been too much. He paused to breathe a bit and focus.
Holding onto consciousness while he grasped his
prize, the big man dragged himself slowly towards the rusting second-world war
steel door jamb that, now without a door, opened onto the outside world. There
was moonlight his brain noted; heaven only knew how long he had been
unconscious. He felt and found what he was looking for with his fingers. At
least he still had them all and they all seemed to work.
He flipped up the red safety cover, pressed the
button beneath and activated the EPIRB. Sighting the doorway again he pushed the
machine out over the threshold as firmly as he could manage hoping it would roll
far enough away to give a decent signal. He was just wondering if he had been a
total dickhead and should have made an effort to stand the fucking thing upright
to ensure it sent a clear signal when the world started getting into soft focus
and roll most disconcertingly.
However hard he tried to hold onto it, consciousness
wouldn’t come back, wouldn’t come back, wouldn’t come back. Then everything went