If That’s What it Takes by Les Allen has taken out the hotly-contested fiction category for thrillers that open dramatically in Northern Ireland before moving to New Zealand where a small-town Northland lawyer, his unconventional secretary and a private investigator are pitted against a ruthless businessman and mega-law firms.
With suspense, drama and humour, often inspired by real-life events during the author’s lifetime in the law, this book has rocketed to number one in the world in its category.
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"If That’s What It Takes is a legal thriller that follows an engaging cast of characters, with a tale full of drama but told with a great deal of compassion and warmth. It is a compelling read that offers insight into the legal world."
"It draws on the author’s experience working in law firms and is all the better for this authenticity. Enjoy a slightly nostalgic read that celebrates a side of New Zealand not usually seen in novels."
"A wonderful read. I’m not usually a novel reader but this book kept me interested and engaged all the way through. I’d recommend this and will be buying more as gifts."
"We all read it immediately and thoroughly enjoyed it - in fact it was gripping and what was nice was reading about local places and familiar Kiwi expressions."
1982, New Zealand. Sean McBride, an unlicensed private investigator living under a false identity, forms an unlikely alliance with small-town lawyer Jim Mansell and his unconventional secretary Kelly. Fighting against dirty tricks from Northland rugby fields to dusty courtrooms, they soon find themselves locked in a David and Goliath battle against unscrupulous businessmen who have no qualms in obliterating anyone in their way. Sean’s past has taught him how to play dirty as well, if that’s what it takes.
In law you can see the best and worst of human nature as you help clients with their problems. Often quite a bit is going on behind the scenes in a law firm as well and the clients aren’t always aware of this.
I haven’t seen any of this examined in New Zealand books. Many overseas books seem to focus completely on criminal law, which is something that probably 95% of New Zealand lawyers never deal with. Sometimes though working for business or private clients can involve plenty of drama and difficult situations as well.
Over the years, as something of a frustrated writer, I have seen situations that I thought would make an interesting book. I took it as a challenge to write a book that is set very clearly in New Zealand (mainly in Northland), not in the US or the UK. It’s set mainly in Northland because I love that part of the world, especially the Tutukaka Coast.
As it is almost all set in the early 1980’s, some readers will identify with a number of New Zealand cultural elements that they had forgotten. I think many younger (adult) readers will enjoy the New Zealand scenery and background as well.