The Inheritance by Gabriel Bergmoser

Reviewed by Rod McLary

When Gabriel Bergmoser’s previous novel The Hunted was reviewed in July 2020, and in these pages, the reviewer concluded his review by saying ‘I await impatiently the freshness of his new book’.  And now, here is the author’s new book The Inheritance continuing the story of Maggie as she hides out in Port Douglas in Far North Queensland.

It is at the same time an exciting and a challenging read – exciting because the pace is relentless and fast; and challenging because Maggie takes no prisoners.  The body count rises higher and higher until there is no point trying to keep up.

In Port Douglas, Maggie has created a quiet life for herself.  She has a waitressing job in a down-and-out bar in a back street, one or two acquaintances and a steady if low income.  Maggie feels relatively safe although her antenna is always on high alert – and with good reason.  The opening sentence to the novel is ‘Maggie sensed danger the moment the man walked through the door’ [5].  It is clear that, whatever happens from this point on, Maggie and the reader will be in the heart of it.  Within hours, Maggie has angered the leader of a drug cartel and he is out for revenge which – for him – can only mean Maggie’s death.  Along the way, she brushes up against a bikie gang the Scorpions, a crooked police officer and an ex-police officer whom Maggie may or may not be able to trust.

Her approach to the members of the Scorpions she comes up against is heart-in-mouth reading.  In one encounter, she takes a frying pan with oil and walking towards one of the bikies ‘flung the oil into his face’ and with the other, she ‘rammed [a] pen into his eye’ [189].  Needless to say, neither survived.

There is a backstory to Maggie’s arrival in Port Douglas and gradually elements of that story are revealed.  In part, her story provides a welcome pause from the violence which seems to occur regularly; and in part, it goes some considerable way to provide an understanding of what made Maggie the way she is.  Her past by any measure is a tragic one where she was abused and mistreated by her father and abandoned by her mother.  This life, followed by years in foster care, created a strong resilient and resourceful young woman who prefers to attack rather than be attacked.  But in spite of this, there is a part of Maggie which still yearns for what she never had.  She recalls that as a child, she would imagine that ‘she was in a different house listening to a different TV … beneath the TV she would hear the current of quiet conversation and laughter’ [75].  These moments of personal recollection provide an added depth to Maggie’s character and engenders an empathic response from the reader.

The author further enhances the strength of the novel by the inclusion of keen psychological insights which suggest a developing maturation in Maggie – at the time of this story, she is only 23 – and perhaps a turning away from the violence which seems to be so much a part of her life.  She says of herself things about her that would forever be different and dangerous.  Things that, to some, would look abhorrent.  But being shaped by where she had come from didn’t mean she was defined by it. [267]

The Inheritance follows on from The Hunted but it is by no means necessary to have read the first to thoroughly enjoy the second.  While there are a small number of references to events in the earlier book, they are not critical to a full understanding of the narrative arc of this story.  However, after finishing The Inheritance, readers may well want to read the earlier one as soon as possible to extend the excitement and enjoyment.

Gabriel Bergmoser has crafted an excellent and exciting thriller.  The pace is relentless but there are moments of reflection and thought which provide a depth to Maggie and by extension to the novel.  Well recommended.

Gabriel Bergmoser is an award-winning author and playwright based in Melbourne.  He won the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award in 2015, was nominated for the 2017 Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing and won several awards at the 2017 VDL One Act Play Festival circuit.  His first novel for adults – The Hunted ­– is a best seller and is currently being adapted for film.

The Inheritance


by Gabriel Bergmoser

Harper Collins

ISBN 978 14607 5856 4

$29.99; 300pp

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