A review from BootheGlobalPerspectives Nov 7, 2016
A New International Adventure
David de Vaux hails from Australia but has worked in five nations, and I met him while he was working on this book at his cabin in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, and found him a brilliant and charming person. The book is a blend of wit, research, and drama [and is] exceptional in both style and content. De Vaux writes a beautiful, layered story that reminds me of Steinbeck and Hemingway, with much detail and erudition.
Cassowary Hill is partly set in a remote jungle, where colorful neighbors of [the narrator] Tom Pryce-Bowyer make up a fascinating collage of characters. Tom has returned to his forest cabin to concentrate on his research but runs head-on into secrets and reports of recent atrocities in [Australia’s neighboring island] East Timor.
Woven into the complex tale is Tom’s almost mythical guardian—a six-foot jungle bird—and an American general [who has] supported a dictatorial regime set on forcing the submission of the Timorese in order to exploit their natural resources and enrich a few despots and criminals. The giant bird is an allegorical nature’s conscience, a king of the jungle and [keeper] of deep truths of ecology and environment. Tom and the bird will find themselves face to face with the general, who has been named for a high-ranking [Washington] post.
When Tom’s crew of international friends lures the American—supplier of money, guns and equipment to an evil regime—to their jungle retreat for a tense confrontation, Tom finds himself face to face with the general [who is] on a mission to keep the facts underground. Righteous indignation vs. institutional intolerance creates a lively scene.
The book has a romantic subplot involving Tom and [a New York publisher], which brings jet-setting flair and spice to the story.
The scenes in this novel beg for a screenplay. The plot has all of the essential elements for a movie.
This is a “can’t put it down” book of love, adventure, conflict and some of the best and most colorful writing I have seen in a long time. The author has woven documented facts into an engaging read. I recommend that you remember David de Vaux. He is extraordinary, and no doubt we will be hearing more from him.