Category Archives: Australian crime fiction

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

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.