Review: Dark Paradise ~ Robert Macklin

dark paradiseNorfolk Island isolation, savagery, mystery and murder.

Aren’t remote South Pacific islands supposed to be paradise? Perhaps, from a distance, Norfolk Island looks a peaceful place lush with tall pines. But look closer and that idyllic facade is shattered.

For all of the 220 years we have known it, Norfolk s story has been one of darkness, pain, rage and horror. Long-buried bones and axes hint at the violence before Captain Cook arrived and claimed the place for England. And then the horror truly began. From its earliest days, the isolation of life on this rocky outcrop took its toll.

Robert Macklin, author of the bestselling SAS SNIPER, tells the vivid, bewitching story of how a unique lifestyle and culture evolved amongst the almost two thousand inhabitants. From a brutal penal colony, a refuge for descendants of the Bounty mutineers when they outgrew Pitcairn Island in 1856, to the murder of Janelle Patton in 2002, Norfolk Island is exposed like never before. A place full of shadows and wrongful deaths, its history is a mesmerising tale all the more powerful because it is true.

I have to tell you, Satan lives here. Norfolk Island resident to the author, 2011.

1 Thumbs-UpOh dear.  I was so looking forward to sitting down and soaking up an intriguing and interesting read when I read the synopsis for this book and, unfortunately I was sorely disappointed.

It was not an immediate disappointment, it was one that gradually crept up as I progressed through the book, and took the form of some major factual errors which most readers will pick up the minute they come across them.  The result of these were that I felt this Author had not done as much research into their topic as they possible could before putting the words on paper, and from this point onwards for me it rather invalidated any other point they were trying to make.  Yes, the location was part of the British Empire, and yes it was originally used by them as a penal colony; the Author could get this facts correct, what happened with the glaringly incorrect ones?  If ever a book spiralled out of control in the worse possible way, this has to be that book.

In a book of this kind, much could have been gained, and an extra dimension added by including some by including some documented narrative from actual Islanders themselves as to the events covered, unfortunately this was not the case and resulted, in my opinion in a rather flat, one-dimensional piece of work.  There were so many avenues of research that could have been followed, and were left ignored in the favour of the violence and abuse that took place, which resulted in this being a rather dull read.  Another plus that this book could really have used were the skills of an excellent proof reader and a bold editor, there were so many bad typos in this book that, at one point I was beginning to think that somehow the unedited copy had made it into print instead of the finished piece of work; even the synopsis on the back of my library loan had typos, maybe I should have heeded this subliminal warning and left the book on the shelf.  If you are interested in the history of Norfolk Island, this book is worth reading to a point, and that point is that it should not be read as an only source on the subject but in conjunction with other, better researched pieces.

I find, with this book, I cannot recommend it to anyone with a clear conscience, and based on this piece of work I doubt I will read any other works by this Author.

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