I am a big fan of Wake in Fright, Cook's first novel (Goodreads seems to have deleted the review I wrote for that novel). Cook seems to be obsessed with the theme of ordinary Australians from the suburbs discovering their true selves in the outback. Wake in Fright had a dull school teacher type getting drunk and going absolutely crazy during a stopover in a small town, as the main character.
In Fear is the Rider, Shaw, a young man driving across the outback to report for a Government job meets Katie (a hep journalist) at a bar. She is traveling to a secluded part of the outback to write articles on rock carvings by aboriginals. He decides to follow her and surprise her, purely on a whim. But when Katie is attacked by an enormous hirsute man, she turns to Shaw to save her.
Unfortunately, Fear is the Rider is not that big on character development. It was entertaining. But it was like one of those American action movies with too much action where you keep wishing the director/writer told you more about the characters and gave you a look around the place. Which is a shame because I loved the setting - the desolate and hot Australian outback where you would be dead if you spent more than two hours outside your car.
The novella does have some really pulsating action scenes and car chases. But like I said, I wish Cook had developed some of the sub-plots and supporting characters like the old couple who runs a hotel in the middle of nowhere. The action begins on the first page itself and does not let up until the end. Cook was apparently writing this for a movie/TV series which never got made. That probably explains the relentless action.
Fans of movies like Duel, Road Warrior, Road Games, Long Weekend and Joy Ride should check out this novel.