Category Archives: Australian crime fiction

Book review: a triple shot of Australian crime writing

Resurrection BayIt’s been a while between fiction reviews on my site. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy reading. Even found the time to read some debut Australian books, three of which I want to talk a bit about here.

Resurrection Bay, Emma Viskic

Resurrection Bay is one of several new publications to hit shelves recently from Echo Publishing, a new subsidiary of Melbourne-based Five Mile Press.

Private detective Caleb Zelic responds to a text message from his childhood friend Gary, asking for help. By the time Caleb arrives Gary is dead. Gary was a cop. He also moonlighted for Zelic on occasion. The latest case they were working on involved a series of robberies from a warehouse complex. Is Gary’s death related to that investigation and, if so, is Zelic next? And who is ‘Scott’, ‘the Boxer’ and ‘Grey Man’.

Zelic is a great character. He is not particularly likeable and a human disaster area when it comes to relationships. He is also profoundly deaf. Viskic apparently learnt sign language as part of writing the book and Zelic’s disability is something she uses to great effect in this novel. As for Gary, well, he might have been a bit bent, but so is nearly everyone else in this novel, including Zelic ex-junkie brother and his 57 year old, acerbic ex-cop, alcoholic partner.… Read more

Empty beaches: In search of Australia’s fictional private eyes

Empty BeachSeptember 12 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of a little-known Australian crime movie, The Empty Beach. The film fared poorly upon release and is still unavailable on DVD — you’d have to track down a rare second-hand VHS edition to view it.

Nonetheless, the film is something of an obsession of mine and I have been wanting to write about it in detail for a while now. This is partly because I am a huge Bryan Brown as well as always being fascinated with movies that I thinks are good but which have, for whatever reason, sunk into obscurity.

Also The Empty Beach and its source material, the third book in what has become a long-running series by Sydney writer Peter Corris, feature something largely absent from Australian crime fiction and film: the bone fide, card-carrying, full-time private investigator for hire.

I finally got around to writing a piece on the film and its source book for the Los Angeles Review of Books. You can read the essay, ‘Empty Beaches: In Search of Australia’s Fictional Private Eyes’ in full here.

Ghost Money just 99 cents for 24 hours on June 30

GhostMoneyfinalcoverI am a little brain dead tonight as a result of having spent a wonderful weekend in Adelaide as a guest of the South Australian Writers Centre inaugural Crimefest. I’ll be writing about this event more a little later in the week, when I’ve had some sleep.

For now, I just wanted to give readers a heads up that Crime Wave Press, the publisher of my crime novel set in 1990s Cambodia, Ghost Money, will be discounting the Kindle version of the book to 99 cents for 24 hours on June 30.

So, if you have not picked up a copy of the book yet, here is a chance to do so at very little cost.

Australian readers will be able to get the book here.

Those in the US and elsewhere, can do so here.

Ghost Money was first published in the US in 2012 and has recently been republished by the Hong Kong based Crime Wave Press.

Second time around the book is continuing to get good feedback from those who read it. The respected site, My Bookish Ways recently said of the Ghost Money that it ‘is highly recommended for old school and new school noir fans alike, especially for anyone looking for a change of locale.… Read more

Ghost Money redux

GhostMoneyfinalcoverOkay, it’s official. Ghost Money, my crime novel set in 1990s Cambodia, now has a second life via the folks at Hong Kong based publisher, Crime Wave Press.

Ghost Money was originally published in the US in 2012, but, given the setting, I’m thrilled that it’s now in the hands of an Asian-based publisher. And feast your eyes on the wonderful cover the folks at Crime Wave Press have done.

You can pick up the Kindle version of Ghost Money here, with the dead tree book to follow in the near future.

Regular Pulp Curry readers may be familiar with Ghost Money. For those who have not heard of it or checked it out, the elevator pitch involves a missing Australian businessman, a Vietnamese Australian ex-cop with a history, a country still recovering from the trauma of the Khmer Rouge. As one of my favourite blurbs for the book goes: “Ghost Money could well be The Third Man of Asian Noir.”

The longer pitch is as follows:

Cambodia, 1996, the long-running Khmer Rouge insurgency is fragmenting, competing factions of the coalition government scrambling to gain the upper hand. Missing in the chaos is businessman Charles Avery. Hired to find him is Vietnamese Australian ex-cop Max Quinlan.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Chain Reaction

The Chain ReactionLast week I posted on the paperback tie-ins for the first three Mad Max films. Continuing my Australian dystopian road movie theme, today’s Pulp Friday offering is the rare paperback tie-in to the 1980 Australian film, The Chain Reaction.

I wrote about The Chain Reaction in a recent piece for the British Institute on Australian dystopian road films. Not every movie mentioned in that article had, in my opinion, necessarily aged well, but this one certainly had. Billed in some places as Mad Max Meets the China Syndrome (George Miller was associate producer and apparently worked on an early draft of the script), not only is it a great road movie, it’s also an interesting artefact from the time when Australia was less enamoured with being part of America’s nuclear state than we are now.

An earthquake in rural Australia causes a dangerous leak at a nuclear waste disposal site, contaminating the surrounding ground water. A scientist, badly injured in the accident, escapes with knowledge about what has happened and is rescued by a holidaying couple, Larry, an ex-Vietnam Vet mechanic (Steve Bisley, who got the role off the back of his performance as Goose in Mad Max) and his wife, Carmel (Arna-Maria Winchester). The shadowy American company that own the facility dispatch a couple of hired killers to track down and eliminate the scientist and anyone he has had contact with.… Read more