Tag Archives: Mark Chopper Read

Book review: Murder on Easy Street

Back in 2014, I wrote a piece for the Wheeler Centre site about what I described as the ‘new wave’ of true crime works. These books differed from the earlier style of true crime work, which, with a few exceptions, were liable to be by the numbers, often quickly written books about sensational crimes – serial killers being a favourite – put together from various second hand sources, with a bit of local colour thrown into the mix.

The new wave of true crime books I was referring to, were more literary, focused on the political processes around the crime in question and, indeed, had a much broader definition of what ‘crime’ was. More often than not, they also seemed to be written by individuals that were either directly involved in the crime in question or somehow managed to shoe horn their own life experience into what they are writing about, so they become as much about the author as whatever crime they are writing about. When these kind of true crime books work, they can work big time. But they don’t always work.

If I had to classify it, I would say Helen Thomas’s Murder on Easy has more of the former type of book in it than the latter.… 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

Chopper Read and our fascination with true crime

ASS Chopper

Two weeks ago Overland Editor Jeff Sparrow posted a short piece on this site on the passing of Melbourne criminal identity, Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. It centred on the obvious, although important point the crimes of rich get treated very differently to those of the poor.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the media’s treatment of Read’s death. Partly because as a crime writer I feel implicated by association in the media’s often-salacious interest in true crime, and it raises questions about aspects of what we, as writers of true or fictional crime, do and how we do it.

It’s also interesting to ponder why Read became such a public figure and, by extension, why contemporary Australia is so fascinated with the criminal.

You can read the rest of this piece here on the Overland website.