BOOK CLUB: Unchartered Waters

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[Total: 4 Average: 4.3]

Unchartered Waters by Peter Cruskall is a fictional crime, mystery thriller set along the east coast of  Australia. From page one until the very end, there is plenty of action that keeps you turning the pages.

Detective Jack Wagner from the Australian Federal Police is investigating the emergence of a new higher-quality drug that has hit the streets in Sydney.

A joint operation between the Australian Federal Police, the NSW Police, the Australian Border Force, and the Marine Border Control is taking place. The foreign shipping vessel that made the drop is high tailing it into international waters and the local fishing vessel has been set on fire by its two occupants who have disappeared over the side.

While the fire is extinguished and 400 kilos of drugs have been seized, it would have been ideal to have apprehended someone in the drug supply chain.

Thanks to an astute AMSA analyst in Canberra questioning suspicious movement in the shipping channel a new investigation begins.

Julie Anne Granger, a journalist for Sydney Daily News is Jack’s girlfriend. She is searching for her next big story.

An anonymous tip-off on the suspicious behaviour of Li Qiang, a resident of Shanghai, who frequently travels to Australia interests Julie Anne.

Julie Anne had been observing Chinese interference in Australian political and corporate life. She questions, where they get the money to fund their political interests. Her angle will be “follow the money”.

Social Justice Lawyer Melissa Wu is being pursued by mystery Chinese backers to nominate for a seat in parliament.

Melissa and Julie Anne’s paths collide.

As all the departments work collaboratively, we are taken into a world of drug smuggling, corruption, threats, money laundering, kidnapping, and murder.

There are many levels of drug smuggling and distribution and not all involved are able to be brought to justice.

So with unfinished business, I am hoping there will be another novel with Jack, Julie Anne, and Melissa!

This is Peter Cruskall’s first book. Unchartered Waters has deservedly been nominated for Miles Franklin Literary Award 2023 and The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2023.

Unchartered Waters is an excellent read, covering the topical subject of Chinese involvement in Australia while increasing the reader’s knowledge of how Australian agencies work to keep our country safe.

Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing for the opportunity to read this action-packed informative story.

A selection of our club members are reading Unchartered Waters. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Unchartered Waters

  1. Uncharted Waters by Peter Cruskall, Shawline Publishing, is a fictional crime thriller about the underworld of drug smuggling and shady business activities in Australia as well as Chinese influences on Australian political and corporate life.

    Set along the east coast of Australia, the book highlights the surveillance and monitoring activities of numerous government agencies including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Australian Border Force, and others as well as Federal and NSW police. The author’s awareness and insights into this network of stakeholders and their relationships is impressive.

    However, while it was great to see that the author is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his story I found that his over use of acronyms and his tendency to describe every little detail ( both pertinent and not) detracted from the plot. It didn’t help me understand the story and characters any better. Instead it bogged things down as I found myself getting a little bored and having to re-read the same pages over again to understand what the story was actually about …

    Nevertheless the book was an interesting foray into the seedy side of Australian life.

    1. Hi Lyn.

      Firstly, thank you for reading the book and secondly for your valued feedback, which as a first time author is invaluable and greatly appreciated.



    2. Hi Lyn. Could you please provide a couple of examples of what you mean below. It would be helpful for the future. Cheers Peter.

      I found that his over use of acronyms and his tendency to describe every little detail ( both pertinent and not) detracted from the plot.

      1. My comments relate mostly to the maritime and boating descriptions used early on in the book for example on Pages 2,18,32,49, 54. Hope that helps.

  2. Uncharted Waters is a fast-paced tale depicting the fight between overseas drug traffickers and Australian government authorities focusing on detective Jack Wagner and investigative journalist Julie-Anne Granger.

    There were also other interesting characters that helped to show drug smuggling and money laundering networks at work, as well as the potential for foreign groups to influence government direction. While there were many characters I found I kept up easily!

    I really enjoyed the story – I thought it was easy to read and full of action. I would recommend to those who like Australian police novels or thrillers. I am sure many readers – young or old, male or female – would also enjoy reading about these criminal activities.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing for the opportunity to read Uncharted Waters.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Kylie. They’re greatly appreciated, especially for a novice in this field. It would be great if you were able to post your review on either Goodreads, Amazon or Book Depository or all of the above haha.

      In any event, thank you again.

      Cheers Peter.

  3. Uncharted Waters is focus on overseas drug trafficking and a fight between the Australian Government featuring Detective Jack Wagner and investigative journalist Julie-Anne Granger. It’s fast paced and a great thriller novel that’s extremely well written, I felt out of my death when I started reading it but the more I got into the more I felt part of it. It just shows that not all books get you from the start but all books are worth the shot, I’m so glad I stuck at this as it’s one of the best books I’ve read regarding drug trafficking.

  4. I struggled with his one from the start being my first e book. It loaded sideways and was so small each page I had to expand in order to be able to read it. The letters overlapped in places or had no spaces between words, so it took me lot longer to read it than it usually would.

    Once I got going, I could get into the feel of the story but I think the writers style did not suit me, perhaps too over descriptive. But the storyline was great! The characters fed into and off each other. Such an unusual story too, interweaving one story off the shore into another onshore and how they both wrapped around each other. Loved the characters Jack Wagner and JA.

    I think if I didn’t have so much trouble with the kindle version I may have enjoyed this one more.

  5. Thankfully there was something good to come out of COVID and Melbourne lock-down.

    WOW – I struggled to get my head around that this was Peter’s first dabble as an author, clearly Peter being an avid reader and having devoured in excess of five hundred books, played a huge role in Peter’s success in creating a fabulous five star read.

    This is a great story, managing to bring together numerous Federal and State Government Departments, a dogged Detective, a dynamic news reporter, an Australian / Chinese Lawyer, politics, money laundering, call girls, casino’s, drug runners and steamy sex scenes and it just works.

    I really resonated with the characters, Jack, Julie-Anne, then Melissa, I felt each of their roles was expertly portrayed, intertwining, as they sometimes do, the information sharing, their dependence on one another, always checking in that they’re ok, was very close to the bone.

    It is very obvious Peter has done a LOT of research for this book, he manages to capture the tension between Federal and State Agencies, and the importance of not crossing that invisible jurisdiction line, between the competing Organisations. I loved Peter’s expert procedural knowledge, always being careful not to step on anyone’s toes, I loved the extensive use of CCTV throughout, the security department always being in the basement, the use of key contacts throughout, the car chase, introducing us to the seedier grubbier side, that we don’t always see, but is always there, just under the surface.

    I can’t recommend this thrilling read highly enough, I can see why the Publisher nominated Pete’s book for both the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the NSW Premiers Literary Award for 2023, it definitely gets my vote. I can’t thank you enough, Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing Group for my advanced E-Book copy to read and review, and for introducing me to Peter Cruskall’s debut novel, I wait with anticipation for Peter’s next book.

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