The Second Son by Loraine Peck

To be published 2/2/2021

 The price of loyalty.

Ivan Novak was putting out his garbage bins one evening in Sydney’s west, when he was shot dead.  His father, Milan, leader of a criminal gang, wants revenge.  Milan is sure that Ivan was murdered by a rival gang, and revenge is a job for Ivan’s younger brother, Johnny.

There is plenty of tension between the various ethnic gangs in western Sydney.  Old fears and suspicions, together with the trauma of war, have accompanied those who have fled in their former homelands.

While Johnny is part of the gang his father leads, he is torn between his loyalty to his Croatian heritage and his love for his wife Amy and their son Sasha.  Amy wants the three of them to break free from this wave of violence, of attack and retribution.  She moves temporarily with Sasha to the home of her parents.  The violence escalates and others become involved. 

Johnny wants to be with Amy and Sasha, but he also wants to prove himself to his father.  Johnny has a plan which just may enable him to meet the expectations of both.  In the meantime, can he keep his family safe?

In this fast-paced debut novel, Ms Peck explores the causes and consequences of ethnic gang violence as well as conflicting loyalties.  There are a couple of twists which help sustain the suspense.  And the outcome?  Well, we can hope for a violence-free future …

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith