Book Preview

Beyond Year Zero

(8 customer reviews)
Authors: Lawrence Held
Crime Thriller
153mm x 230mm

Buy E-books

A gritty, pacey crime thriller set in the dark heart of Cambodia.

Cambodia – seething hotbed of desperation and vice. The Khmer Rouge fighters are long dead but their murderous legacy has left a population gripped by violence. Into this cauldron of psychosis and trauma steps CARL MEISSNER, a 32-year-old unemployed investigative journalist recently fired over his reporting of a paedophile scandal involving a prominent Sydney judge. Carl has been hired by a wealthy Sydney businessman to find his missing twin brother, last sighted in Cambodia.

Forced to face his own demons, he sinks into Cambodia’s dark underworld of child pornography, human-organ trafficking, personal and political corruption, cannibalism, incest and drugs.

Getting into this dangerous breeding ground of insanity is one thing. Getting out is another …

Lawrence Held

Lawrence Held

LAWRENCE HELD trained at the ‘Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art’ (London), worked in theatre and television in the UK and Europe, presented a nine-part series for the BBC, acted in Waiting for Godot and Endgame, directed by Beckett, developed scripts for ‘Film Victoria’, published a book of humorous short stories called Once A Jolly […]

Read More

8 reviews for Beyond Year Zero

  1. Intertwined with the descent into his own private hell of disgraced Australian journalist, Carl Meissner, are other stories of greed, corruption, murder and downright madness which make Lawrence Held’s BEYOND YEAR ZERO a compelling, and at times unputdownable, page-turner of a crime novel.

  2. Cambodia is a seductive country of Buddhist temples and all-night bars, muddy rivers and deep scars. It is against this edgy background that Lawrence Held’s novel “Beyond Year Zero” tells the compelling tale of an ordinary foreigner – Carl Meissner – caught up in a world of unbridled greed and sexual exploitation, which gives him more than a glimpse into Cambodia’s and his own heart of darkness

  3. ‘Beyond Year Zero’ is both chilling and addictive as it drills down into Australian investigate journalist Carl Meissner’s increasing obsession with finding his quarry, missing millionaire Danny Goldman, on the mean streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia … while battling his own demons in a race to the bottom. A noir thriller in the tradition of great noir thrillers!

  4. Beyond Year Zero is a cleverly crafted and engaging thriller set in the underbelly of Sydney and exotic Cambodia. Lawrence Held is skilled in storytelling and setting the tone. The pace is fast but not rushed. The tone is menacing and disturbing – which befits the visceral subject.
    I really enjoyed being on the journey with Carl, the protagonist. He’s intelligent, witty and likeable with a wry sense of humour, despite being a cynical hack! He seems to be another casualty of tough old Sydney – it spits people out – but he’s hanging on and keeping his head above water, just. I liked that I was familiar with the suitably seedy Sydney locations.
    The story has lots of twists and turns, and the characters are well drawn and fascinating. Lawrence Held’s writing style is ideal for the genre, and has some special moments, like in this lovely long sentence where he beautifully captures the feel of the crowd and cacophony of Phnom Penh:
    Further in, the streets became crowded with squatting bodies, garbage, food stalls, near-naked kids kicking rubber thongs, honking motorbikes – one with upturned live poultry strapped to the pillion, other tuk-tuks containing locals, foreigners, Buddhist monks shielding their faces from the pollution with the tails of their saffron robes, beaten-up cars, and big four-wheel drives so clean they looked as if they’d just driven off the lot.

    All in all, a real pleasure to read!

  5. BEYOND YEAR ZERO is a gripping and thoroughly entertaining hardboiled crime thriller. Lawrence Held’s skill at packing in detailed plot development, action and characterisation is complex, with many well-realised twists and turns weaving the large cast and narrative together.
    The author demonstrates a strong and consistent narrative voice throughout the tightly-written plot, and using Carl Meissner – an unemployed journalist with a hard-bitten sense of humour which he uses to protect himself emotionally – as narrator as well as protagonist gives immediacy to the reader’s experience of his emotions, insights and experiences.
    The seediness and danger surrounding Carl at every turn after he takes on the job of finding Joe Goldman’s brother Danny are immediately illustrated in the incident where he is assaulted with a knife by a female junkie and knocked out by her partner, awaking robbed of his watch and wallet.
    The author clearly knows his genre and is adept at creating characters and using metaphors and imagery in a way that suits the hardboiled milieu through which Carl moves. Such phrases as ‘She looked as cool as a gin highball’ might have come straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel; and the work is replete with metaphors about the environs of Phnom Penh – the sounds, smells and other sensory detail of the places he describes (many of them seedy and down-at-heel), which greatly enrich the prose and bring the place vividly to life – Tuol Tom Pong (Russian Market), Phnom Penh’s temples, houseboats, skimpily clad bar girls and prostitutes, petrol-sniffing kids, Buddhist monks on their smartphones (a really nice touch!), its French colonial architecture and the smell of rotting vegetation drifting from the mighty Mekong River.
    His villains are also excellent. ‘Bible Bill’ Butt is a particularly nasty piece of work, who at first appears as a thin bearded old man clad in a white kaftan and lying on a divan smoking a hookah.
    While much of the narrative centres on Carl’s investigations – asking questions, poking around, trying to piece together fragments of information which might illuminate Danny Goldman’s disappearance – there are also scenes of exciting action which add considerably to the thrill of the reading experience. For instance, the scene where Wan Dy (described as a ‘brooding hulk’) and ‘Bible Bill’ Butt burst into Carl’s apartment and Wan Dy chokes the half-drunk, half-stoned Carl, then knocks him unconscious and jabs him with a needle which knocks him out again. Likewise, the scene in which Carl is beaten up by a bent cop over some child-porn pictures is brutally effective, and there is a well-conveyed sense of menace and threat as the cops attempt (but fail) to kill him in a back lane.
    Other action scenes include Butt’s death at Carl’s hands (clubbed with a bottle of fish sauce) and the near-climactic scene in which Danny is shot through the heart.
    The atmosphere is frequently full of menace, even when Carl is not actually being beaten up or fighting attackers – as, for instance, when he is threatened by some cokeheads at the Heart of Darkness nightclub.
    In summary, BEYOND YEAR ZERO shows a writer in command of his powers as a storyteller. The plot is of high quality, the story terrifically gripping and a fine example of its genre – in fact, thoroughly enthralling. Carl’s voyage from divorced journalist and investigative reporter to washed-up multi-murderer has-been with half a missing left-finger – his own voyage into the ‘Heart of Darkness’ (not for nothing is a bar in BYZ named after Conrad’s classic) ¬– is immensely enjoyable, with both depth and action aplenty. Carl’s intelligence and cleverness are well portrayed, and his persistence despite all obstacles is convincing, notwithstanding his personal descent into a hell of his own making via drink, drugs and acquiescence to the moral ambivalence that surrounds him. This is a finely honed entry in the hardboiled crime genre.

  6. ——————————————————————————————————————-
    ‘Beyond Year Zero’ begins with sparkling Chandleresque descriptions and dialogue, befitting that master of American noir fiction, but soon descends into a sleazy Faustian underworld as its anti-hero, Australian journalist Carl Meissner, searches for missing millionaire Danny Goldman, while having to contend with the often-brutal reality of crime and punishment on the back streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and his own tormented psyche.

  7. ‘Far from being just another crime-thriller genre piece, this intelligent, dark odyssey combines existential self-excoriation and an urgent quest for answers and meaning with a descent into the brutal underworld of modern life.’

  8. ‘Beyond Year Zero’ is both chilling and addictive as it drills down into Australian investigate journalist Carl Meissner’s increasing obsession with finding his quarry, missing millionaire Danny Goldman, on the mean streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia … while battling his own demons in a race to the bottom. A noir thriller in the tradition of great noir thrillers!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

  • No products in cart.