Tag Archives: Dave Warner

Crime writers find fertile ground in the red dirt of Western Australia

ZeroWhen Dave Warner’s City of Light appeared in 1995, Western Australia’s crime writing scene resembled one of the late night streets of seventies Perth described so vividly in his book: totally devoid of life.

City of Light, which jointly won the 1996 WA Premier’s prize for fiction, focused on a rookie police constable, Snowy Lane, swept up in an investigation into the murders of several young women by a serial killer dubbed ‘Mr Gruesome’. The case entangles Lane in a web of financial and political corruption spanning the seventies to late eighties.

“As far as I knew at the time, there were no other contemporary crime novelists setting work in WA and nothing had been set there since Arthur Upfield,” recalls Warner.

You can read the rest of this piece here on the Guardian Australia’s Australian Culture Blog.

My top crime reads of 2012

What’s the end of a year without a best of post?

Recently, I was asked by UK site Crime Fiction Lover to list my top crime reads for 2012. They would only let me pick five, but obviously I’ve read a lot more books worthy of mention than that. Here’s the long list.

He Died with his Eyes Open, Derek Raymond

A police procedural like no other, it starts, like so many other crime novels, with the discovery of a body. The unnamed cop (the story’s narrator) who catches the case is a tough talking sergeant from the Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14, at the Factory police station. There’s no apparent motive and all the cop has to go on are a series of old cassette tapes in the dead man’s property that contain the deeply unhappy ramblings of a deeply unhappy man. Most police procedurals deal with crime from the point of view of the police. What’s unusual about this book is that the cop concerned is more like his victim.

Raymond was the pen name of English writer Robert William Arthur Cook, who eschewed his upper middle class family for a life of odd jobs, bohemian travel and frequent brushes with the law. Although he wrote for years, success eluded until with the publication of He Died with His Eyes Open in 1984, the first of five Factory books.… Read more

Book review: City of Light

Years ago I read a book called Big Bad Blood by a Sydney crime writer called Dave Warner.

I can’t remember much about it now, except it was set in Sydney’s vice centre, Kings Cross, in the mid-sixties and involved police corruption, organised crime and a series of grisly murders of local prostitutes. It was a dark, gritty read, set in an era I was (and still am) interested in learning more about. I thought it was great.

I didn’t give Warner a second thought until recently, when I discovered his first novel, City of Light.

Turns out, Sydney’s not Warner’s original stomping ground. He moved there from Perth, West Australian in the late nineties, for reasons which perhaps become clear in City of Light.

City of Light came after a colourful career as a front man for a punk rock band (“Australia’s first punk band” according to his website), stand up comic and play write. It won the West Australian Premier’s Award for best fiction in 1996.

The main character of City of Light is Snowy Lane, a young police constable and amateur footballer, working in suburban Perth in the late- seventies, who gets swept up in the investigation into a string of murders of young women by a serial killer dubbed ‘Mr Gruesome’.… Read more