Category Archives: Australian crime fiction

Beat Not the Bones & the story of an Australian Edgar Allan Poe Award winner

Beat Not the Bones Avon 1955As many of the my US readers will no doubt be aware, America’s foremost crime writing awards, the annual Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Awards, will be presented on April 28.

The upcoming awards make it an opportune time to revisit the winner of the Edgar Award in 1954. That book was called Beat Not the Bones, and it was written not by an American but by an Adelaide-born woman called Geraldine Halls, writing under the pseudonym, Charlotte Jay. That the winner the next year was Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, gives you some idea how prestigious Halls’ win was.

Why some writers and their books go onto achieve lasting literary fame, while others, in this case Halls and her considerable work, sink into obscurity, always fascinates me. In a writing career stretching from 1951 to her last published novel in 1995, she produced fifteen books. Seven of these appeared under the pseudonym of Jay, her maiden name, and seven as Geraldine Halls, Halls being her married name. Another was published under the alias Geraldine Mary Jay.

There is very little information available about Halls, who died in Adelaide in October 1996, and the only image I could find on the Internet is on the Austlit site and is taken from the Adelaide Advertiser, dated May 8, 1853.… Read more

Shilling some new publications

Nightmare Alley

Every now and again one has to do a post that is essentially just one big shill. Well, this is one of those posts. I have been meaning to update you for a while now about current and upcoming publications I am involved in. So, here goes.

Crime Scenes Stories


Crime Scenes stories
I alerted readers a while ago to a new anthology of Australian short crime fiction, published by Sydney based Spineless Wonders, and edited by Zane Lovett, whose debut crime novel The Midnight Promise won best first crime at the 2014 Ned kelly awards.

Last weekend I took part in the Newcastle Writers Festival, at which the anthology, Crime Scenes, was formally launched. I have a story in this collection called ‘Postcard From, Cambodia’, along side pieces by David Whish-Wilson, Leigh Redhead, Carmel Bird, Peter Corris, PM Newton and my partner, Angela savage.

Seriously, anthologies of Australian crime fiction are a rare thing, which makes this anthology something of a special event. You can order Crime Scenes for your Kindle or in paperback from Amazon here or you can buy it directly from the Spineless Wonders site here.

Crime Factory Issue 18

Issue 18 of the award winning magazine Crime Factory, which I co-edit, is out and contains the usual great mix of fiction, features and reviews.… Read more

Cover reveal: Gunshine State

Gunshine StateI’m thrilled to be able to show you the cover for my second novel, Gunshine State, out this September from the wonderful folks at 280 Steps.

Gunshine State is a heist thriller set in Melbourne, Queensland and Thailand. Think Richard Stark’s Parker, Garry Disher’s Wyatt, and Wallace Stroby’s Crissa Stone. Add a touch of Surfers Paradise sleaze and a very dangerous stopover in Asia.

Here’s the elevator pitch:

Gary Chance is a former Australian army driver, ex-bouncer and thief. His latest job sees him in Queensland working for Dennis Curry, an aging Surfers Paradise standover man. Curry runs off-site, non-casino poker games, and wants to rob one of his best customers, a high roller called Frederick ‘Freddie’ Gao.

While the job may seem straightforward, Curry’s crew is anything but. Frank Dormer is a secretive former Australian soldier turned private security contractor. Sophia Lekakis is a highly-strung receptionist at the hotel where Gao stays when he visits Surfers. Amber is Curry’s attractive female housemate and part of the lure for Gao. Chance knows he can’t trust anyone, but nothing prepares him for what unfolds when Curry’s plan goes wrong.

The novel has already had some good advance praise from authors I admire with, I hope more to come:

“A tense, fast-moving, vividly-drawn thriller.”
Garry Disher, author of the Wyatt novels

“A lean, mean, hard-boiled knockout.”
David Whish Wilson, author of Line of Sight and Zero at the Bone

Needless to say, I’ll be talking more about Gunshine State in the lead-up to its release.… Read more

A new anthology of short Oz crime fiction & a course for aspiring crime authors

Just wanted to pull on your collective coats with some writing related news. 2016 is going to be a big year for me, writing wise, with a non-fiction book, a novel and stories in a two anthologies all out in the next 12 months.

My first writing scalp for 2016 is the book above, an upcoming anthology of Australian short crime fiction, soon to be published by Sydney based Spineless Wonders. I’m thrilled to have a story in this collection, ‘Postcard From, Cambodia’. I even get my name on the cover along with heavy hitters such as David Whish-Wilson, Leigh Redhead, Carmel Bird, Peter Corris, PM Newton and my partner, Angela savage. It is edited by Zane Lovett, whose debut crime novel, The Midnight Promise won best first crime at the 2014 Ned kelly awards.

Seriously, anthologies of Australian crime fiction are a rare thing, which makes this anthology something of a special event. The book is currently available for pre-order at a reduced price, so get onto it. Ordering information and other details are available here.

My second piece of news is about a course for new and emerging crime writers I’m giving for Writers Victoria on Sunday February 28 and March 6. Over the two days we’ll cover topics such the key conventions of crime fiction, the basics of plotting and structure, how to pace and build suspense, the importance of setting, strategies for completing your manuscript and pitching your book to publishers.… Read more

The comfort of crimes past? Why we love period crime procedurals

sherlock-holmes

You only have to take a quick look at the television guide or go to the crime section of your nearest bookstore to know that period crime procedurals – crime stories set in the past – are popular.

Showing or having recently aired on free-to-air television have been Foyle’s War, a police procedural show set during or immediately after the Second World War; Dr Blake Mysteries, set in Ballarat in the 1950s; Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, based on the successful books by Melbourne writer Kerry Greenwood set in late-1920s Melbourne; andAquarius, dealing with the murders committed by Charles Manson in 1960s California. These programs feed into a much wider canon of popular period shows – everything from Downton Abbey, to Mad Men and Wolf Hall, the adaption of Hilary Mantel’s 2009 bestselling Booker Prize-winning novel.

Our desire for period crime procedurals is just as big on the printed page. In Australia alone, there are Sulari Gentill’s books featuring the 1930s sleuth, Roland Sinclair, Robert Gott’s police procedurals set in the newly formed homicide squad in 1940s Melbourne, and Geoffrey McGeachin’s award winning Melbourne police detective Charlie Berlin, to name a few.

What is driving this? Is this a symptom of our refusal to come to grips with modern reality?… Read more