The Shadow Game (Harry Dunkley #3) by Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann

‘…there are no rules in a fight. There is only the survivor and the defeated.’

Welcome to Canberra! Journalist Harry Dunkley tried, and failed, to reveal the existence of the cabal of mandarins (referred to as the Alliance) who exert power in Canberra. He is dispirited and disgraced, not sure what the future holds, and he could be facing time in gaol. Can things get any worse for Harry?

But politics is an uncertain game, and Harry’s fortunes rise as the Coalition government hits turbulence. Former Prime Minister Martin Toohey becomes an unlikely ally, as do some of Harry’s former adversaries.

Together, Harry and Martin Toohey are determined to bring down the Alliance. Australia’s sometimes challenging and fragile relationships with China and the USA provide tension in the background. And the tension is ratcheted up a level by the relative inexperience of Australia’s current Prime Minister Elizabeth Scott. In the background, Sir Jack Webster (of Defence) seems untouchable, but Harry just might be able to find a way.

This is the third of a trilogy, best read in order (‘The Marmalade Files’ and ‘The Mandarin Code’ are the first two) to appreciate the character development. While some elements are farfetched (I hope), other elements will seem depressingly familiar to those familiar with Australia’s federal political machinations.

A fitting end to the trilogy.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith