Saturday, January 27, 2007

Aramoana - Twenty Two Hours of Terror

Title: Aramoana; Twenty-two Hours of Terror
Author: Bill O'Brien
Publisher: Penguin

November 13th 1990 marks one of the darkest days in our country’s criminal history. Thirteen people, including four children, were gunned down in Aramoana by local resident David Gray in a siege of the small coastal town that lasted twenty two terrifying hours. Author and former New Zealand Police Officer Bill O’Brien, takes us back to that day in his harrowing book “Aramoana, Twenty Two Hours of Terror” re-published to coincide with the release of the film Out Of The Blue.

Most New Zealanders will be familiar with the story of the Aramona massacre. O’Brien’s account is from the police perspective and goes behind the scenes of this harrowing tragedy. Chronicling the descent into reclusive and often troubling behaviour by Gray prior to the murders, O’Brien also introduces us to the people of the community and their way of life before it was so abruptly shattered, the events of that auspicious day by a rampaging Gray with an arsenal of high powered weaponry, the courageous actions of the police, armed offenders squad and ordinary citizens and the terrible aftermath this tragedy inflicted on all those involved.

O’Brien’s style is factual but compassionate, never seeking to glorify the actions of David Gray. His story is a well crafted, insightful read as well as being an intensely emotional one: I doubt it possible to read the accounts of the shootings, especially those of the children at point-blank range, without an overflow of feelings engulfing the reader. It is something I can definitely attest to.

Bill O’Brien’s novel, Aramoana, Twenty Two Hours of Terror is a gritty, dark retelling of New Zealand’s worst mass killing. He paints a chilling picture, capturing the uncertainty and terror while threading through the all too real stories of David Gray’s victims and those who worked, in the most trying of conditions, to end the nightmare.

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