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Book Review: Parabellum

Title:  Parabellum

Author:  Greg Hickey

Category: Thriller

Reviewed by: Sarah Jackson

Interesting and compelling

Parabellum opens to the aftermath of a massacre at a Chicago beach. We know that there are many dead but not much more. We are then taken back to a year before the event and are introduced to four potential suspects. We follow their lives and internal struggles right up to the bloody incident. Each person has a reason to be dissatisfied with their life, but who is going to be the one to take it out on strangers.

Hickey does not give any of the potential perpetrators a name, but rather refers to them by their dominant role in society. We have the student, a male high-school student who struggles with depression and teenage angst; the ex-athlete, a young soccer star who is forced to give up her scholarship to a prestigious college following a series of brain injuring concussions, an Iraq war veteran turned police officer who is struggling to manage his PTSD, and an emotionally dysregulated computer program, unsatisfied with his life. All four are struggling to find their place in the world. All four could potentially be the shooter.

Hickey’s work is well researched, and his characterisations of his protagonists/antagonists is precise and thoughtful. He accurately represents the internal machinations of individuals managing external and internal stressors, life-changing events and pre-existing personality disorders. 

Parabellum which roughly translates to “prepare for war” is an inciteful look into the world of mass shootings and what types of individuals may be inspired to engage in such an act. Mercifully this is a rare occurrence in Australia – probably due to our strict gun laws and almost non-existent gun culture – but when it does happen, the impact on the victims and society at large is vast.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and found it to be an interesting and worthwhile read. The plot flows smoothly and draws the reader into the action. The book contains some violence and is suited to a mature audience.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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