Since the coming of the Europeans, Australia’s ecosystems have been challenged by exotic, introduced species which, once established, quickly spread and threaten both native species and environmental balance. Jim Bloke, the first-person narrator of Bruce Pascoe’s new novel, is unaware of the most recent of these biotic challenges – abalone virus ganglioneuritis or AVG – when chance brings him into the small East Gippsland town of Nullakarn. Soon after settling in at the local pub – before he’s got the foam off the top of his third beer – he’s been offered a place on the local footy team and a job as an oyster harvester. But if this ordinary bloke’s luck seems too good to be true, it’s because it is. Oyster work leads to diving for sea urchins, leads to abalone harvesting, leads to trips to Singapore to bring boats with unknown cargo back to Australia and this, of course, leads to trouble with the law – trouble that relates, ultimately to the “ganglio” that threatens the abalone industry along the Victorian coast. With Bloke, Pascoe spins a yarn that effectively combines the crimethriller genre with a search-for-identity narrative, along with romance, humour and, as in all of Pascoe’s work, Aboriginality.