Jack Heath, The Cut Out, Allen & Unwin, August 2015, 280pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781760111984
A teenage spy-thriller, chock full of adrenaline-pumping action, cool gadgets and a political espionage story line? Yes, it’s the talented Jack Heath, one of Australia’s best loved YA mystery and thriller writers, returning to our bookshelves in a thrilling page-turner which kept me up until midnight.
Fero Dremovich is a normal 14 year-old boy from Kamau—a city in Eastern Europe—who unfortunately has more than a passing resemblance to Troy Maschenov, a spy from neighbouring country Besar. Fero gets mistaken for Troy and recruited into assisting in a complex mission to stop a group of terrorists from blowing up a virus-laden hospital.
With the clock ticking, Fero gets some fast and furious spy training and is loaded up with all sorts of gadgets, from spring-loaded boots to a mobile phone capbable of cutting through anything! After crossing through the Dead Zone he meets up with the other main character—Cormanenko—a double agent who knows a secret way into the hospital.
Truths and lies are woven deftly throughout and Heath’s signature twists and turns are overlaid by an interesting child’s view-point of political conflict. The Cut Out can be read simply as a teenage spy-thriller, however there are some thought-provoking themes of ancestry and inherited responsibilities, which are very pertinent to Australian history.
Reviewed by Amanda Tarlau