Like a lot of stories, it starts with a lie. Not a small lie, but a malicious one. John Cassidy is a five-year-old boy waiting for his father to turn up. Two hours pass, and his Father, Jack, turns up to be faced by his ex, Margaret, and his replacement Dwayne and told that his son doesn’t want to see him anymore. She tells her son the same lie about his father.

Years pass and John has his revenge on Dwayne, a substandard replacement for his Dad, and watches his Mother becoming a sad, bitter figure of what she could have been. She tells him that his father is dying and having burnt too many bridges in his previous life; he goes to meet the stranger that his father has become.

When they both realise that Margaret has told them the same lie, the relationship starts to thaw. Jack has been living on the land that his father won gambling, and the town of Mission wants the land back, which passes to John when his father dies.

Jack has been wronged a lot in his life, and his son wants to avenge those wrongs. As John sets out on his task, he finds nefarious people and reasons why his father became the man he became.

Mission is about a place, but it is also about redemption, about doing the work to get the reward. The characters and their motivations are well-drawn, the ending, like most of the novel, follows its own sense of internal logic, and although John Cassidy is not the most sympathetic or charismatic of central characters, the reader can still feel something for him, and the life that he finds himself living.

Reviewed by Ben Macnair

Published by Hookline Books (13 April 2021)
Paperback, ISBN 978-1838057930