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Thomas Greenbank
GOLD!—The Kincaid Saga
GOLD! is an 80,000 word novel that would appeal to fans of gritty family saga/drama. It is set against the backdrop of the Western Australian gold mining industry, circa 1975-2005. The central character, Malcolm Kincaid, is a ruthless and self-centred businessman who runs roughshod over friends and family alike in his pursuit of wealth and power. When he allows the pollution of an Aboriginal settlement’s water supply, however, he faces justice of a kind he could never imagine. The story begins with Malcolm and his brother, Jamie, setting up operation of a gold mine on a lease inherited from their father. Malcolm has a fiancé, Rachel, but she is already unsure of their future prospects due to Malcolm’s abusive nature. After a drunken brawl in which Malcolm injures Rachel she ends the relationship and eventually sets up home with Jamie. When Jamie is absent one weekend, Malcolm plies Rachel with liquor and rapes her. She sees it as partly her fault and pleads with Malcolm to keep it between them so as not to hurt Jamie. (Please note that this is not a violent rape. Rachel is asleep and Malcolm takes advantage of the situation, whilst she thinks he is Jamie returning home—at first. I even had one review reader, a woman, who disputed that it was rape at all. Also, although I allude to domestic violence within the story there are no actual depictions of such. There is a dramatic fight scene at one stage, however, and a murder.) When Rachel finds she is pregnant she and Jamie marry. Roughly two years later Jamie is killed in an accident and Rachel finds herself forced to work with the man she has grown to despise. Unaware of his true parentage, their son, Lachlan—after first studying for a law degree—advances through the ranks as their company grows into a mammoth corporation. Rachel does her best to mitigate Malcolm's increasing influence on him. This task becomes more difficult when Malcolm appoints Lachlan as manager of a new mine in the Pilbara region or North-West WA. Lachlan soon has his own set of challenges: A fractious and sometimes domineering wife with a drug dependency, a child of his own, and a conscience that often leads him into direct conflict with his Machiavellian ‘uncle’. *** Shortly after Jamie’s death, Malcolm hatched a plan to create a bogus gold nugget and set in place a scheme to defraud the mine’s insurance company by faking a break-in in which the ‘Hand of God’ nugget was allegedly stolen. When one of his co-conspirators seemed to be on the verge of confessing his role to the police Malcolm lured him to a remote area and killed him, dropping the body down a disused mineshaft. (This murder is revealed in flashback near the conclusion of the story.) *** Lachlan discovers that Malcolm has been systematically covering up mine tailings pollution of a local Aboriginal waterhole near the Pilbara mine and arranges for the settlement to be moved at the company’s expense. After learning the truth about this and other misdeeds by Malcolm, an elder from the community ‘points the bone’ at him. He warns Lachlan that ‘bad things coming to Malcolm Kincaid’. Within days, the body in the mine is discovered and Malcolm is investigated. He never faces trial, however, as he suffers catastrophic organ failure and dies, surrounded by ghostly images of the Aborigines who cursed him. Before Malcolm dies, Lachlan and his mother inform him they have arranged for the Skull Creek mine to be made over to a co-operative under the ownership of the Aboriginal settlement elders. (In addition to the above, there are various subplots involving tertiary characters.)