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New blood among the ferns

Aotearoa Reads, New Zealand Book Council (November 2016)

TAR Cover2 thumb What if something widely touted to save millions of people might be a scam, or even worse? Longtime Kiwi journalist Robert takes readers on an entertaining helter-skelter ride with this high concept eco-thriller that fair screams for screen adaptation.

Nine days before the global release of a ‘miracle’ genetically modified seed coating set to make starvation history, the IT advisor for an environmental organisation in Los Angeles gets a cryptic email from an old friend who works for the seed corporation. Alarms bells start ringing, behind closed doors, and a deadly manhunt ensues as a ‘by any means’ corporate fixer follows a trio of environmentalists to New Zealand in an effort to silence them.

Robert conjures a propulsive narrative mixing personal and global issues, set against a well-evoked backdrop of rural New Zealand, full of quirky and memorable characters. The Alo Release is a promising debut that can get the pulse racing, and the mind whirring.

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BOOK THROWS WELLINGTON INTO SPOTLIGHT
Dominion-Post/Stuff News, NZ, 19 August 2015

StuffDompost logoWellington is thrust into the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons in a new genetic modification thriller.

The Alo Release, written by journalist Geoff Mein under his pen name of Geoffrey Robert, exposes the potential for public opinion to be manipulated during a crisis.

The novel opens in California, but most of the action is set in New Zealand , with critical scenes in Wellington.

“Within pages of eavesdropping on a conversation about cyber-sabotage at the hip Alcove Cafe in Los Angeles, readers are riding on a Go-Wellington bus past the Metro supermarket in Willis St,” Mein said.

Other scenes take place in Island Bay, Lambton Quay, Cable Car Lane, Victoria University, the ninth floor of the Beehive, the airport, hospital and central police station, and on the roof of Rebel Sports in Kilbirnie.

Mein, who began writing the book while living in Paekakariki in 2010 and 2011, said he wanted to tackle an important international issue from a New Zealand perspective.

“Journalists, whether in Wellington or New York, come under constant pressure from businesses and other organisations with large budgets to spend manipulating public opinion to boost profits or advance their agendas.

“The Alo Release highlights how vulnerable citizens and governments are to corporate manipulation on a grand scale during an international crisis.”

Mein said the issue was timely, given widespread concern in many countries about the safety and labelling of genetically modified food, and alarm over the level of influence multinational corporations are having on trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The author has drawn on more than 30 years’ experience as a journalist and communications adviser, including seven in Wellington.

He is currently living in Timor-Leste, where he is working on his next novel.

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