“Back to the volcanic plateau! The railway viaducts that span ravines in this area are marvels of engineering, erected at the turn of the twentieth century when the plateau was isolated: no roads, difficult access, wary tribes. The young engineers and the gangs who defied death daily clambering over icy iron girders way above the ground make for good story-telling. Religious fanaticism rears its head in this novel. And Denniston Rose makes an appearance. She loves clever engineering.”
Breathing life into our past. A vivid novel about ingenuity and hard slog, crooks and dreamers, bootleggers and love.
Billy is a young, impressionable dreamer. In 1907, he strikes off on his own, keen to prove himself an able worker on the new railroad. It’s being cut through steep mountainsides and across deep gullies to join the two ends of the Main Trunk Line. Also drawn to the remote worker settlements are miners from Denniston, young men fresh off the boat, sly-groggers, temperance campaigners, women following their menfolk, local Maori and a varied assortment of people after a new life or a quick buck.
Among them is a preacher, Gabriel Locke, who is running from a shady past and determined to avoid the daily grind. With untimely and suspicious deaths, the horrendous weather, impossible deadlines and the rugged landscape, it will take a lot more than a leap of faith for this disparate group to complete the railroad and build the magnificent Makatote viaduct . . .