For me, a holiday read is all about getting away from the beach. There is nothing I love more than returning to the comforting sun and smell of sunblock after delving into darker territory. Needless to say, Nigel Bartlett’s King of the Road was my ideal escape. In many ways it is a classic tale; an everyman forced into the role of vigilante who, in discovering clues about an unsolved mystery, discovers hidden parts of himself.
While this may sound familiar, Bartlett’s novel is far from cliché. King of the Road is gripping from beginning to end and Bartlett’s prose gives the novel a relentless momentum as the tension rises and the plot twists. The story focuses on David Kingsgrove who finds himself under suspicion from the police after his 11-year-old nephew disappears. We follow David as he sinks deeper into the unsettling world of paedophile rings, and while the subject matter is confronting, it is deftly handled by Bartlett. I felt like ‘the king of the road’ during my recent Easter holidays as I flew down the highway en route to a coastal campground. Nigel Bartlett’s King of the Road made my drive all the more enjoyable, because unlike David’s journey into the seamy criminal underworld, my drive ended in a barbeque.
Nigel Bartlett is a freelance writer and editor, and the former deputy editor of GQ Australia and Inside Out magazines. In 2012 he completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at UTS.