Category Archives: Australian noir

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.

Gunshine State, my second novel, to be published in 2016

Been sitting on this news for a while and now I can finally make it public. My second novel, currently titled Gunshine State, has been picked by crime only publisher, 280 Steps. It will be released sometime in the second half of 2016.

Gunshine State is a dark, innovative heist story. The heist story is much neglected in Australian crime fiction and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing one that is hard boiled, intelligent and uniquely Australian. Gunshine State is my attempt to do this. The central character is Gary Chance, a former Australian army truck driver, who has featured in a number of my short stories.

If you want a better idea of what you are in for with Gunshine State, all I can say for now is think Richard Stark’s character Parker, Garry Disher’s Wyatt, and Criss Stone in the books by New Jersey writer, Wallace Stroby. Add a touch of Surfers Paradise sleaze and a lengthy and very dangerous stop over in Asia.

I have heard a lot about 280 Steps from quite a few people and it has all been good. I’m really looking forward to working with them on Gunshine State.


strangerland-poster-cinema-australiaInitial impressions can be deceiving in Kim Farrant’s debut feature movie, Strangerland.

On the surface it appears to be another version of the women-and-children-in-danger-plot-line so popular at the moment (think Gone Girl, Top of the Lake and half the crime novels that have been published in the last few years). But the film boasts some interesting twists and bravely examines themes you won’t see in many of the similar films.

The Parker’s have just moved to Nathgari, a spec of a town (‘population 1048’), surrounded by a seemingly endless expanse of beautiful but inhospitably sun blasted outback. The family unit – Catherine (Nicole Kidman), her highly-strung husband, Matthew (Joseph Fiennes), daughter Lily (Maddison Brown) and young son, Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton) – is clearly under pressure. Tommy, in particular, is intensely resentful about the move.

It becomes obvious fairly quickly that whatever it is that they’ve had to flee is connected to Lily and her burgeoning sexuality. Despite being a minor, she is sexually active and this has caused problems in the past, clearly sign posted when Matthew tells his son: ‘Don’t let her out of your sight, ok?’

It is no surprise then when both kids go missing. Indeed, Matthew watches from one of the windows of their home, as they leave in the middle of the night.… 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