Category Archives: David Whish-Wilson

Hit-and-run books & ‘literary’ works: true crime, from Garner to Chopper Read

1920s-gangster-hit

In her latest book, This House of Grief, Helen Garner examines the case of Robert Farquharson, who on Father’s Day 2005 drove his car into a dam off the Princes Highway near Geelong, drowning his three young sons. It is among a number of recent works that demonstrate how true crime writing has changed over the last few years.

Others are Anne Krien’s Night Games: Sex Power and Sport, which won the 2014 Sisters in Crime Davitt award for best true crime book, and Robin De Crespigny’s The People Smuggler, ostensibly a non fiction story about the experience of an Iraqi asylum seeker, which took the 2013 Ned Kelly crime writing award for best non-fiction. Matthew Condon’s Jacks and Jokers is another example. The second instalment of a trilogy about police corruption in Queensland from the sixties to the Fitzgerald Inquiry in 1987, it has the feel of an ambitious alternative social history rather than a piece of true crime writing.

“In terms of definition,” says veteran true crime writer Lindsay Simpson, “true crime is a literary rendition of a particular crime which pays homage to veracity by researching the crime across multiple sources including interviews and primary source documents while at the same time engaging the reader through its narrative.”

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (1966), his investigation into the 1959 murder of a Kansas farmer Herbert Clutter, his wife and two of their four children, is often credited with pioneering the more literary end of the true crime genre.… Read more

My year in books

InfamyWill I ever come to the end of a year without the feeling I haven’t read nearly as much as I should have?

Unlike other years I’ve at least got a clear list in terms of my top five reads for 2013.

Here they are.

Infamy, Lenny Bartulin

Infamy is set in 1830s Tasmania. British mercenary William Burr is hired by the colonial government of Van Diemen’s Land to track down an escaped convict, Brown George Coyne. While Burr may be the hero of the novel, if one exists, Coyne and his Indigenous ‘wife’, Black Betty, steal the story. Coyne is a terrifying creation, a former convict, psychopath and cannibal, also a revolutionary working to unite a motley crew of escaped convicts with what’s left of the island’s Indigenous population, to overthrow the colonial government and rule as a self styled king of Van Diemen’s Land. 

Infamy is a superbly rendered piece of historical fiction, a dark, almost noir crime story, and a unique and unashamedly Australian take on the western. Possibly my best read of 2013.

Generation Loss, Elizabeth Hand

Cass Neary made her name in the seventies as a photographer of what was then the burgeoning New York punk movement. Thirty years later she’s a washed up, semi-alcoholic mess, when out of the blue, an old acquaintance gives her an assignment to track down a famous and reclusive photographer living on a remote island of the coast of Maine.… Read more

My year in books: David Whish-Wilson

ZeroThe next guest in the ‘my year in books’ series is Perth-based crime writer David Whish-Wilson.

David’s Zero At the Bone (the sequel to his 2010 book, Line of Sight) was one of my favourite crime reads of 2013. I reviewed the book on this site a couple of months ago.

Also hot off the presses and getting rave reviews is David’s book about his home town, Perthpart of the New South Books city series. You can find the book here.

Dave’s got some interesting choices. The first of the Laidlaw series is on my radar to try soon.

Welcome David.

My top 5 books of this Year, in no particular order are:

The Dying Beach, Angela Savage

I’ve spent most of the year working on a non-fiction book, and my reading has been pretty much limited to municipal histories and the like. One thing I notice about this year’s favourite novels, unlike in previous years, is that 4 of the 5 are Australian, and three of the four are West Australian, which I think is terrific. One of the greatest joys this year was reading Angela Savage’s latest crime novel, The Dying Beach. From the first pages I was there with Jayne Keeney and her idiosyncratic but always fully-realised side-kick, Rajiv.… Read more

Perth and crime fiction: an imaginary garden with real toads

1970s-Near-William-Street

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Zero At the Bone, the latest book by Perth based crime writer, David Whish-Wilson. Zero At the Bone is a sequel to Whish-Wilson’s 2010 book, Line of Sight, which established him firmly in my mind as the president of the, albeit very small, club of Australian writers who do noir fiction and do it well.

This week, I’m thrilled to host David on Pulp Curry, with a wonderfully written and nuanced piece on the historical origins of Zero At the Bone and Line of Sight. It’s also a great insight into his home town of Perth, a place where, as he writes “the brighter the light, the deeper the shadow”.

Dave’s next book is Perth, part of the New South Books city series, out in December. 

David Whish-WilsonZero at the Bone had its genesis in a quote supplied by my brother, and it’s one I reference in the novel, by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, who plundered the Aztec Empire in the 16th Century. He said that “I and my men suffer from a disease of the heart that can only be cured by gold.”

This is a pretty honest assessment of the motivations behind Cortes’ journey to the New World, but the story of this maddening desire for gold, and the story of the city of Perth, where Zero at the Bone is set, are also closely linked.… Read more

Book review: Zero At the Bone

ZeroA couple of months ago I wrote an piece for the Guardian Australia’s Oz Culture Blog on why I think the most exciting crime fiction in Australia at the moment is coming out of the West.

It has something to do with the fact that the people are tough, the climate is harsh, and the mining boom has amplified everything and has given local writers a wealth of material and creative inspiration, as well as a real sense of vitality and realism.

If you want proof, look no further than Zero At the Bone, the latest book by Perth based crime writer, David Whish-Wilson.

Zero At the Bone is a sequel to Whish-Wilson’s 2010 book, Line of Sight, which established him firmly in my mind as the president of the, albeit very small, club of Australian writers who do noir fiction and do it well.

Based on real events, Line of Sight opens in 1975, six months after the murder of Perth brothel madam Ruby Devine, 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 that would have implicated the senior police she bribed to stay open and certain high profile ‘secret investors’ in her operation.… Read more