Tag Archives: Line of Sight

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

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

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

The Next Big Thing

Call me old fashioned, but I only just found out what an Internet meem is the other day when I was tagged to take part in the ‘Next Big Thing’.

A meme is something that spreads via the Internet. In this instance, it’s a string of short interview questions with various authors about their current book or work in progress.

I was tagged by New Jersey based crime writer Wallace Stroby. He also tagged Scott Alderberg, Alison Gaylin and Philadelphia author Dennis Tafoya. Esteemed company to be in.

Stroby is the author of a string of crime novels, the most recent of which I’ve read is Cold Shot to the Heart featuring the professional female thief, Crissa Stone. If you haven’t checked his work out already, I suggest you do so.

Since I have foresworn off blogging about my next book, I’ll answer the ten questions about my current novel, Ghost Money.

1. What’s the title of your current book?

Ghost Money, out through Snubnose Press.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

It came from working on and off as a journalist in Cambodia in the mid-nineties and becoming fascinated with the place, the people, and the contrast between the anything goes, Wild West atmosphere of Phnom Penh and the hardscrabble but incredibly beautiful countryside.… Read more