Category Archives: Australian noir

A new publisher for Gunshine State

Anyone with a knowledge of the history of pulp and popular fiction publishing will know that publishers, particularly small publishers, come and go.

They appear on the scene, often amid a flash of initial excitement and publicity, prosper and become bigger. Or they may do well for a while until economic problems, changes in the publishing industry or the fortunes of the, often few, individuals running them, cause them to falter and close shop. The latter was the unfortunately fate of 280 Steps, the publisher of my second novel, Gunshine State, and the work of many other fine crime writers.

I don’t want to dwell on the reasons behind  280 Steps closure, which took effect at the end of April, except to say that when I signed with them in 2015, they appeared to be very going concern. They had a good business model, had their publicity act together, produced terrific cover art, and where putting together an excellent roster of existing and up and coming crime writers I was happy to number among.

The upshot of the 280 Steps closure is that, for the time being, Gunshine State will no longer be available to purchase either digitally or in hard copy. I say ‘for the time being’ because Gunshine State will be re-released in February 2018 by the US crime publisher Down and Out Books.… Read more

Noir at the Bar Melbourne

NATB1A very brief heads up for Melbourne based readers of Pulp Curry, that if you are at a loose end on Tuesday, March 28, I have the event for you.

Myself and crime writer, Iain Ryan (whose debut novel, Four Days, I reviewed on this site here) are organising Melbourne’s first Noir at the Bar event.

What is Noir at the Bar you ask?

It is pretty much what it sounds like – a group of writers do readings in a bar (or in our case a cool second hand bookstore with a bar, Grubb Street Bookshopm 1/379 Brunswick St, Fitzroy).

Crime fiction critic and blogger Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Beyond Borders originated Noir at the Bar at Noircon in Philadelphia in 2008, and from there the idea has spread all over the US. Indeed, these days hardly a week goes by in which there’s not a Noir at the Bar somewhere in the US.

Anyway, Iain and I thought it was high time we had one in the US. After all, we get enough of the crap of the US, we may as well take the good things as well.

So, a night of readings from some of Melbourne’s best noir fiction stylists and drinks in a cool establishment, what is not to like about that.… Read more

Down these mean streets: The depiction of Melbourne as a ‘Noir City’ in Division 4

Police station - Farewell Little Chicago, ep 30 (1970)Melbourne-based Pulp Curry readers might be interested in the upcoming 3-day Screening Melbourne Symposium to be held in association with the Universities of Deakin, La Trobe, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT and Swinburne; and in partnership with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image & the Australian Film Institute, from February 22 to 24.

I’ll be co-presenting a paper with my friend and colleague, Dean Brandum, on Crawford Productions’ Division 4 series (1969-75) and its depiction of Melbourne as a ‘noir city’.

With Homicide a ratings hit on the Seven Network, Crawford Productions was commissioned by the Nine Network to produce a rival series, the even darker Division 4. Whereas Homicide presented a Melbourne where violent crime was a aberration to be corrected, Division 4’s police characters were shown as the last bastion of morality in a tabloid Melbourne of vice and organised crime. Accentuating this tone was Division 4’s aesthetic of high contrast monochrome depicting the shadowy laneways, sleazy clubs and pubs and ever threatening nightlife of the city, a ‘Noir City’, a vision rarely, if ever depicted on the screen as strongly and as consistently over the course of its 301 episodes.

This presentation is partly based on the research Dean and I did as recipients of the 2014 Australian Film Institute Research Collection’s research fellowship.… Read more

My top books of 2016

my-father-the-pornographerIt’s that time of the year for my top 10 reads of 2016. As is always the case, my list is a mixture of new books, old books, fiction and non-fiction. In no order they are as follows:

The Rules of Backyard Cricket, Jock Serong

It took a while for this book to warm up, but about a third of the way through it just goes bang and never looks back from there. An incredibly dark tale of suburban crime set over several decades in Melbourne, as seen through the eyes of professional cricketers Darren Keefe and his older brother, Wally. Don’t let the publisher’s marketing of this book as literary crime fool you; this is as good an example of noir as you will find in Australian crime fiction today. Serong has a beautiful prose style and totally nails the period detail of growing up in seventies/eighties suburban Melbourne.

Old Scores, David Whish-Wilson

Old Scores is the third book by Perth crime writer David Whish-Wilson featuring Frank Swann, former petty criminal, disgraced cop and low rent private investigator.The story is set in the set at the beginnings of the cowboy capitalism that marked Western Australia in that decade. Swann’s peculiar mix of talents is in demand by the state’s newly elected Labour government.… Read more

Book review: Old Scores

old-scoresOld Scores is the third book by Perth crime writer David Whish-Wilson featuring Frank Swann, former petty criminal, disgraced cop and low rent private investigator.

The first, Line of Sight (2010), was set in 1975, six months after the murder of a Perth brothel madam, shot four times in the back of the head with a .22 the day before she was scheduled to give evidence to the tax office implicating senior police and certain high profile ‘secret investors’ in her operation. Convinced the same cops responsible for the murder are the ones investigating it, Swann turns whistle blower for the Royal Commission called to investigate the murder and matters relating to it.

Zero at the Bone (2013) took place in 1979 and saw Swann engaged in a parlous living as a PI. A bikie wants his stolen Harley found, an old cop buddy wants help to track down some shop lifted jewels, and an attractive widow by the name of Jennifer Henderson wants to know why her geologist husband decided to blow his brains out. No one will touch case except Swann and it soon becomes apparent why.

Old Scores shifts the story to the eighties and the beginnings of the cowboy capitalism that marked Western Australia in that decade.… Read more