SOLID OIL is fiction but many will see it as prophetic and not all will appreciate its message. Written by former Fiji Sun publisher and regional journalist Russell Hunter, now based in Townsville, northern Australia, the book is highly optimistic about the future of PNG – but there are obstacles to be cleared first.
SOLID OIL is especially optimistic about the role – and power – of women as a story of greed, ambition, corruption and ultimate honesty unfolds. The central tale will be familiar to many connected to PNG. A world-class resource has been found in the country. Nations, companies and individuals are eager for control of it and some are prepared to defy all laws to achieve it. A crime cartel faces the combined might of the United States and Australia (who each have their own agendas) in a battle to control the precious deposit of lithium – often described as the oil of the 21st century. The outcome is far from being as clear cut as might be expected.
Finally it falls to a young woman to lead her country away from the past and into a promising but by no means secure future. In doing so she must sacrifice her love for a man to her love for her nation.
The novel, set in the murky world of eco-terrorism, has been published in the United States and is available in hard copy and e-format from Amazon and Angus and Robertson online as well as most leading on line bookstores.
“I suppose you could call it an eco-thriller though the description is overused,” said Russell, “It’s mostly set in Papua New Guinea, Canberra and Washington with cameo appearances by Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hong Kong and Monte Carlo.”
The story revolves around the pursuit of lithium, a light metallic element used in just about everything from mobile phones to nuclear bombs. There is a Vietnamese gangster after the precious resource while the first woman U.S president has her own plans for it.
Added to this mix are murder, corruption and a category 5 hurricane.
Russell Hunter has ‘previous’ with violent criminals. While working as a newspaperman in Fiji in 2008 he was abducted from his home late at night, by soldiers of the military dictator Frank Bainimamrama who took power at gunpoint in December 2006.
“He wanted total control of everything including - especially- the media,” said Russell, “I took a very firm line against this in the paper and clearly had to go. A gang of squaddies (not in uniform - in fact it was denied that they were military until that position was no longer tenable) arrived at the house and took me to a secret location overnight before marching me on to a plane for Sydney the following morning, despite a court order obtained in the meantime, that I was not to be removed from the country.”
“My daughter, then 13, was especially traumatised at the sight of her father being forced into a car by seven men in the middle of the night.”
Title: Solid Oil
Author: Russell Hunter
Publisher: Cambridge Books, Cambridge, Maryland, United States
Price: Paperback US$18.95, e-book US$6.95
Contact: Russell Hunter 0410 120985
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"The rainforest’s secret is known to a very few. But each is perfectly placed to profit from it. The secret is lithium—sometimes described as the oil of the 21st century—and the knowledge of it has spawned a crime cabal led by Vietnamese gangster-turned-investor Johnny Ho and including a diverse cast of fellow crooks. Their plan is to own the priceless resource in the middle of the island of New Guinea, cut down the rainforest, and leverage themselves into financial control of most of Southeast Asia. To protect them they have a weapon only a nuclear strike can combat. Or so they think. The first female president of a United States, self sufficient in oil but totally without the precious lithium, has her own plans. Andrei Kutuzov, chess aficionado, avid reader and unlikely secret agent, is sent to make them a reality. The Australians, meanwhile, are also aware of the deposit and have their own intentions—with an SAS team on call to support them. As the story unfolds through murder, jealousy, corruption and a Category 5 hurricane, Kutuzov comes to realize the players have reckoned without one factor—the nation that holds the deposit and the beautiful young woman who will emerge to lead it. The presence of a national heroine (and the people who call the forest home) forces them all to think again."
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Born and educated in Dundee, Scotland, Russell Hunter’s work as journalist, editor and newspaper manager has taken him to most parts of the planet. Many of those play roles in Solid Oil. He has travelled in and written extensively on the Pacific Islands. His devotion to the principles of democracy and media freedom resulted in his abduction and subsequent deportation from Fiji by the military dictatorship that seized government at gunpoint in 2006. He has since settled in Australia’s tropical north with his Papua New Guinean partner. They have two daughters.