Cover image for Sole survivor
Sole survivor
Hansen, Derek, 1944-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Physical Description:
426 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



THE PLACE a remote, sparsely inhabited Pacific island. THE CHARACTERS three loners -- two men and a young woman -- who share a life of isolation and loneliness and are eventually forced to come to terms with themselves, one another, and the encroaching world. When Rosie Trethewey -- disillusioned doctor turned market researcher -- unexpectedly inherits a shack on the remote northern tip of New Zealand's Great Barrier Island, she decides it's time to begin a new life. She arrives at her new home to find she has two neighbors sharing the wilderness. One is Red O'Hara, traumatized by horrific wartime experiences working on the Burma railway as a P.O.W. of the Japanese. The other is Angus McLeod, a retired policeman, who has fled from a society he sees as soft and contemptible. Both are, in different ways, survivors. Rosie's sudden appearance panics Red and Angus. Both of them fear she will disrupt their neatly ordered lives. And they're right. Tough, smart, and practical, Rosie soon turns the lives of Red and Angus upside down, reawakening in Red feelings he has been repressing for years, and in Angus, feelings he has hardly ever acknowledged. As Red, Angus, and Rosie work out their relationship -- and as Red and Rosie gradually come to grips with the fact that they may just possibly love each other -- an unexpected threat draws them closer together: the depredations of a big Japanese trawler threaten to destroy their food supply and their environment. As they go to sea in a desperate attempt to prevent the rape of their island paradise, this extraordinary novel of survival and love moves toward a blazing finale that will remind many readers of The African Queen. Enriched with a cast of strong, interesting supporting characters -- a bluff naval officer and his smart, sassy, woman petty officer; the captain of the Japanese trawler; the island's storekeeper -- Sole Survivor is a great read, at once romantic and full of adventure and suspense, set against the background of a tropical paradise and the hostile sea. Derek Hansen's Sole Survivor is that rarest of achievements -- a totally satisfying novel.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This is the story of three very different loners who inhabit a nearly desolate New Zealand island along with one dog, one cat, and plenty of birds and fish. They are highly territorial and all but completely cut off from the outside world, until one dies and leaves his sad excuse for a house to a beautiful young woman, Rosie Trethewey. The two remaining men--one a survivor still haunted by the horrors of a Japanese POW camp, the other a retired policeman sour on society--are determined to drive the new arrival away, but Rosie quickly divides and conquers by winning the love of one and the grudging admiration of the other. The plot is brought to a boil when poaching Japanese fishermen threaten the trio's livelihood and way of life. Our heroes join forces with a young naval officer and his pretty assistant to wreak havoc on a Japanese trawler and its ruthless captain. Hansen has filled readers' plates with a highly satisfying adventure saga. --Budd Arthur

Publisher's Weekly Review

A spirited woman invades the solitude and solidarity of two male residents of a New Zealand backwater bay in Australian novelist Hansen's (Psycho Cat) newest mixture of adventure and romance. Abandoning her claustrophobic life as a mainland marketing representative, Rose Tretheway moves into a cottage she has inherited on remote Wreck Bay on the coast of the Great Barrier Island. There she encounters hostile neighbors: Red O'Hara, a former WWII POW in Burma, who is barely functional, and Angus McLeod, a crusty Scottish ex-policeman who retired to the island to write children's books. Tretheway quickly begins a problematic affair with the shell-shocked O'Hara and then indulges in a fling with a local naval officer. Her romantic life gets more complicated when the curmudgeonly McLeod, after trying to force her off the island, does an about-face and tries to talk her into having a child, hoping to live out his parenting fantasies as a secondary father figure behind either O'Hara or the officer. Real life intrudes on the romantic antics in the form of a poaching Japanese fishing trawler that threatens both the livelihood of the inhabitants and the delicate ecology of the island. The narrative chugs along effectively despite some dubious scenes that call into question the motives of the various protagonists, and despite a climax that's downright bizarre. Hansen does a fine job of depicting island life in the 1960s, and he invents an appealingly idiosyncratic cast of characters, but much of this long and ponderously narrated book fails to generate suspense. Agent, Jillian Manus. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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