Category Archives: Australian noir

Police fictions: Law enforcement involvement in early Crawford crime TV

Division 4 #6 TV ad‘Why was Homicide so successful? One reason was its production values, which was much more advanced than previously made local television dramas. The fact it was shot partly on location was also an Australian first. But the most significant drawcard was the show’s realism. Its settings were Melbourne’s dimly lit streets and alleys, its public bars and cramped workers’ cottages. The show also presented a realistic portrayal of criminals, investigators and the methods used to solve crimes. This authenticity was the chief selling point of Homicide and its successors, Division 4 and Matlock Police. And crucial to this authenticity was the in-depth involvement of the Victorian police.’

Last year, myself and fellow research and friend, Dean Brandum, were lucky to be awarded with a joint fellowship at the Australian Film Institute Research Centre. Our research was on the making of Crawford’s early television crime shows, Homicide, Matlock Police and Division 4. This included the much talked about but little known history of Victorian police involvement in all three shows.

You can read the full text of a article myself and Dean wrote for the literary magazine Overland, about our findings, here.

Shilling some new publications

CarnivalEvery 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

My top 10 books of 2015

Bad Penny BluesIt’s time for my annual top 10 reads for the year. In no particular order they are as follows: 

Bad Penny Blues, Cathi Unsworth

Bad Penny Blues kicks off in London in the early 1960s. A young police constable finds the body of a murdered prostitute. His subsequent investigation into the crime and similar murders, spanning the better part of a decade, propels him into the heart of the city’s Soho vice district. Interspersed with this is the story of a young and up and coming fashion designer, Stella, who is plagued by nightmares about dead women.

The fact I found this book a pinch too long didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it. Bad Penny Blues is a solid piece of noir fiction and a great evocation of sixties London, taking in everything from the occult, teddy boys, bent cops, radical bohemians and debauched upper class aristocrats.

TattooMurderThe Tattoo Murder Case, Akimitsu Takagi

First published, albeit in a slightly different form, in 1948, a young forensic medical student with post-traumatic stress after a stint as a medic in the Philippines begins a passionate affair with a beautiful woman who is covered with strange, sexually alluring traditional Japanese tattoos. Soon after the affair begins, she is murdered, dismembered and her tattooed torso stolen from the scene of the crime.… 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.