Monster Fest 2016 appearances: The Evil Touch & Homicide, episode 27, ‘Witch Hunt’

qualyeA quick heads up to Melbourne readers – Monster Fest 2016 will happen on take place from November 23 – 27, at the Lido Cinema, Hawthorn. Monster Fest is not something I have had much to do with in previous years, but this year it has been hugely revamped, largely thanks to the new program director, Kier-La Janisse, who has put together a new programming team, of which I am a part of.

Anyway, I particularly wanted to draw your attention to two events I am a part of.

Low Grade Transmissions From Hell: Revisiting the Lost Australian Horror Anthology, The Evil Touch

The early seventies are viewed as a peak period for horror anthology television. The Australian show, The Evil Touch is unique in that it was the only horror anthology show made locally, specifically for the US market. Successful in America, it bombed when aired in Australia in 1973 and the 26 episode series is now largely forgotten. Although cheaply made, The Evil Touch is strangely effective, at times, genuinely disturbing television. The grainy look and surreal narrative style give it the feel – in the words of American television critic John Kenneth Muir – of ‘a low grade transmission straight from hell’.

As part of Monster Fest’s Monster Academy, I’ll be giving a talk on the origins, making and reception of The Evil Touch.… Read more

Book review: Old Scores

old-scoresOld Scores is the third book by Perth crime writer David Whish-Wilson featuring Frank Swann, former petty criminal, disgraced cop and low rent private investigator.

The first, Line of Sight (2010), was set in 1975, six months after the murder of a Perth brothel madam, shot four times in the back of the head with a .22 the day before she was scheduled to give evidence to the tax office implicating senior police and certain high profile ‘secret investors’ in her operation. Convinced the same cops responsible for the murder are the ones investigating it, Swann turns whistle blower for the Royal Commission called to investigate the murder and matters relating to it.

Zero at the Bone (2013) took place in 1979 and saw Swann engaged in a parlous living as a PI. A bikie wants his stolen Harley found, an old cop buddy wants help to track down some shop lifted jewels, and an attractive widow by the name of Jennifer Henderson wants to know why her geologist husband decided to blow his brains out. No one will touch case except Swann and it soon becomes apparent why.

Old Scores shifts the story to the eighties and the beginnings of the cowboy capitalism that marked Western Australia in that decade.… Read more

‘…Wyatt’s got some serious competition now’

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Sometimes one just has to do a bit of shameless self-promotion.

It’s been nearly three weeks since the release of my second novel, Gunshine State, my heist thriller set in Queensland, Melbourne and Thailand, and the reviews so far have been very positive.

My favourite of the crop so far is from Karen Chisholm, Australia’s most consistent and rigorous non mainstream media crime reviewer, who helms the site, Australian crime fiction:

‘What Gunshine State does as well is avoid the trap of style over substance. For all the lean and mean styling and strong characterisations, there is also a very solid plot. Believability again being the key here. There are all twists and turns you’d expect when the people on your side are as bad as the ones you’re up against, and there’s a certain type of person that does not take being screwed over – literally or figuratively – quietly… There’s room in Australian crime fiction for two lone-wolf anti-hero types, and Wyatt’s got some serious competition now.’

Those are terrific sentiments, given how much of a fan of Garry Disher and his creation, the character of the master thief Wyatt, I am. You can read the full review on Karen’s site here.

The other reviews so far have also been good:

‘… a comprehensive love letter to the genre’s rough hewn roots.’ The Big Issue magazine

‘Of the heist novels I’ve read recently, this one stands out as the best example, with modern criminals and a modern edge.’ Crime Fiction lover

‘The pace is fast, the narrative momentum steady.… Read more

My NoirCon places

goodisIn just under a month from now, one of the most interesting literary festivals I have had the pleasure of attending kicks off in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, the home of Edgar Allen Poe and David Goodis: NoirCon.

This year, NoirCon runs from October 26 to 30. If you already plan on attending, see you there. If not, now is the time to register.

It’s runs is not your common or garden-variety festival. No way. And that is a very good thing. The focus is firmly on noir, mainly fiction, but also film, poetry or whatever (and that last category, ‘whatever’, encapsulates some pretty bizarre material). It is great to sit in a room of people who, more or less, are all on the same page about their love of noir.

Anyway, NoirCon’s organiser, Lou Boxer, has come up with another terrific program, including some special guest, which you can view in detail here.

This year, I am thrilled to say I will be part of the program. I’ll be presenting on the morning of Friday, October 28, on the history of Australian pulp paperback publishing. I’m also reading at the Noir at the Bar as part of NoirCon, which will take place from 6.30pm at the Pen & Pencil Club, 1522 Latimer Street, Philadelphia, hosted by the inevitable Philly crime fiction identity, Peter Rozovsky.… Read more

The heist always goes wrong, part 3: 10 of the best heist films you’ve never seen

payroll-1961As readers of this site know, I love a good heist film, the ingenuity of their plots and the variations they come in, whether it be the all star team assembled for the job of a life time or a group of desperate men and women trying for one last big score.

Everyone can name their favourite heist films and, for the most part, it is usually the big name titles such as The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) and the French classic, Rififi (1955). Indeed, I listed these and many other well know heist movies in previous posts on this site, ‘The heist always goes wrong, part 1: ten of the best heist movies ever made’ and ‘The heist always goes wrong, part 2: reader picks and other favourite heist movies’.

But what about the lessor known heist films that are great but which nobody knows about?

To celebrate the release of my second crime novel, Gunshine State, I have compiled the following list of the 10 best heist films you’ve never seen.

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Operation Amsterdam (1959)

Operation Amsterdam functions as both a war and a heist film. Peter Finch plays Jan Smit, a British intelligence officer ordered to infiltrate the city of Amsterdam, which is on the verge of being overrun by invading German forces, and prevent the city’s diamond reserves from falling into Nazi hands.… Read more