Review Blog

Jan 24 2014

The Debt series by Phillip Gwynne

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2013.
Instalment 1: Catch the Zolt. ISBN 9781742378442.
Instalment 2: Turn off the Lights. ISBN 9781742378435.
Instalment 3: Bring back Cerberus. ISBN 9781742378596.
Instalment 4: Fetch the Treasure Hunter. ISBN 9781742378602.
Instalment 5: Yamashita's Gold. ISBN 9781742378619.
Instalment 6: Take a Life. ISBN 9781742378626.
Since his blasting onto the writing scene with the award-winning Deadly Unna (1999: Book of the Year - Older Readers) Phillip Gwynne has proven his ability as an outstanding writer, particularly for the YA market. In this new series, he sends the reader on a thrilling ride with all the verve and adrenalin rush of series such as Conspiracy 365 (Gabrielle Lord) and Alex Rider (Anthony Horowitz).
Dominic (Dom) Silvagni, is a reasonably typical Gold Coast teenager - albeit from a very privileged but outwardly normal family. Their home in the elite gated community of Halcyon Grove is a show piece and Dom, along with his parents, older sister Miranda and younger brother Toby lack for nothing. His much loved paternal grandfather Gus, is close at hand and is Dom's coach - both of them with a passion for middle distance running - despite Gus' having lost a leg in a 'shark attack' at a young age. He has also grown up almost next door to the love of his life, Imogen, who sadly has lost her father and been left with her slightly unhinged mother.
Dom's regular schoolboy existence at the top notch Gold Coast Boys Grammar comes unstuck on the night of his fifteenth birthday when his father, David, and grandfather Gus initiate him into the Silvagni family inheritance - an ancient debt owed to the 'Ndrangheta' - a Mafia-style organisation from the old country. Each male child from the Silvagni is required to pay back the debt in six instalments - or lose a 'pound of flesh'. With each successfully completed instalment the inner thigh of each Silvagni male is branded until the mark of repayment is whole. With growing horror Dom realises that his grandfather's missing leg was not the result of a shark attack, witnessed by his incomplete branding . . . becoming acutely aware that this is no joke, but a very dangerous and deadly serious undertaking.
When presented with the opportunity to review the final Instalment bk 6, I commented that I had not read the full series - and fortunately, I was lucky enough to do so. This is definitely a series to be read in sequence, as we follow Dom's heart-racing exploits and watch him develop skills, acquire both allies and enemies and despite all odds, complete seemingly impossible tasks.
Throughout, the reader becomes aware, as does Dom himself, that there is much more to this deadly challenge than just the Herculean assignments set. What really happened to Imogen's missing politician father? Why does Dom's own father insist he has never been to Italy, nor speaks 'wog' yet is overheard talking fluent Calabrese? Why does his Californian mother have cosy chats with Roberto, the gardener? How is it possible that the same taxi driver keeps turning up just when he has need?
Loaded with all the thrills and spills that will particularly appeal to teenage boys - fast cars, private jets, an unending number of useful smartphone apps, heroic action, daring rescues plus more - and with a knock out ending, this will enthrall readers from 12 years up.
The Debt website
A SMH interview with Phillip Gwynne about the series.
Instalment 6 Book Trailer
Sue Warren

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