Category Archives: Crime fiction

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.

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Book review: Hard Rain Falling

HardWhile the argument can be made that Don Carpenter’s 1966 novel Hard Rain Falling is one of the best American crime fiction debuts of the late 1960s, no longer can it be said to be one of the least known. At least not since 2009, when New York Review Books released Hard Rain Falling as part of its classics series, with a forward by no less a crime fiction eminence than George Pelecanos, who stated the book “might be the most unheralded important American novel of the 1960s.” Since then, Hard Rain Fallingand Carpenter’s work more generally has undergone a wider critical reappraisal.

It was a very different situation in 1995, when the then 64-year-old author, beset by financial woes and facing multiple health problems, committed suicide. One of nine novels Carpenter wrote, Hard Rain Falling was lauded by critics and other writers upon its release, leading to the well-worn description of Carpenter as a writer’s writer, but the book never reached a mainstream audience.

There is some debate as to whether Hard Rain Falling is a crime novel. I’ll let others argue over the fine-grained literary questions. The book is about crime, criminals, and prison. That’s enough for me.

Hard Rain Failing opens in eastern Oregon in 1923, with a liaison between a cowboy and a 16-year-old female runaway.… Read more

Book review: Trouble in the Heartland

Trouble In the HeartlandWith so many books to get through for various projects and paid journalism, I haven’t been doing much reading for pleasure lately and, what little I have done, hasn’t been very focused. So short story anthologies are the ideal format. Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen is the best of the current crop I’ve read.

I was sold on this book the very first time I heard about it. As an enormous fan of Springsteen and crime fiction, in some respects it wasn’t a very hard sell. That didn’t mean it would necessarily be any good.

The idea is pretty straightforward. Forty one mainly American writers, established and up and coming, were assigned a Springsteen song and told to write a short story inspired by it. If you know anything about Springsteen’s music, you’ll already have a fairly good idea about what a lot of the stories are about: losers, dreamers, men and women whose disappointment with the reality of the American dream runs deep and angry. A lot of the action takes place in greasy spoon diners, farms and crime infested housing projects, and on deserted rural roads. Most of the factories have closed down, farmers are struggling, and most of the characters don’t have a lot of fuel left in the tank and even less hope.… Read more

Mid-summer reading report back: Perfidia, Japanese tattoos, eighties sleaze

Perfidia

Summer in Melbourne is usually the one time of the year I can be guaranteed to get a fair amount of personal reading done. As has become my annual practice, a short report back on the books I have got through is in order.

Perfidia, James Ellroy

I need to preface my comments on Perfidia by stressing I am a massive Ellroy fan. I have read all of his books – ALL of them – many more than once. I even liked The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s A Rover, the two books that most divided readers. So, it is with a heavy heart that I say Perfidia is very disappointing. The long awaited prelude to Ellroy’s LA Quintet, Perfidia takes place in Los Angeles over 23 days in December 1941, a period in which American went from being at piece to the attack on Pearl Harbour and the country being at war.

The focal point of the book is the brutal murder on the eve of Pearl Harbour of a Japanese family. The killings have all the hallmarks of traditional Japanese ritual deaths. Drawn into the murder investigation are future LAPD chief William H Parker, the meanest crime fiction cop ever created, Dudley Smith, a brilliant young Japanese police forensic scientist, and Kay Lake, a woman with a major thing for bad men.… Read more

Post traumatic noir – a note on the passing of Robert Stone

cover600spanThe death of US writer Robert Stone on the weekend has drawn me out of the break I planned on posting on this site over January.

Stone was the author of two tremendous works of neo-noir fiction, both of which I read when I was first getting into the genre.

The first, Stone’s debut novel, A Hall of Mirrors, was published in 1967 and partly set in New Orleans, where Stone lived briefly. It dealt with a dissolute, opportunistic right wing radio broadcaster and the desperate, doomed characters he associates with. It was turned into an excellent film called WUSA by Stuart Rosenberg in 1970 and starring Paul Newman, then in the throws of his battling his own alcoholism (I reviewed it on this site a couple of years ago here.

The second, the better known and probably more influential of Stone’s books, Dog Soldiers, was published in 1974. The 1978 film  adaption, Who’ll Stop The Rain (reviewed on this site here), is also very good.

Dog Soldiers concerns a liberal war correspondent in Vietnam, Converse, who disillusioned with what he has seen, decides to traffic heroin back to the US. He enlists Hicks, his friend in the merchant marines, to take the drugs back to Converse’s wife, Marge, in Los Angeles.… Read more