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Sue Turnbull

Tucked inside a plastic sleeve affixed to the inside front cover of this handsome, large-format book is a video disc promising ‘The Best of Graham Kennedy’. Introduced by Stuart Wagstaff, the one hour of footage offers a compilation of Kennedy’s work for Channel Nine drawn from the early days of In Melbourne Tonight (1957–69) and The Graham Kennedy Show (1972–75). Most of the sketches, dance routines, advertising segments and encounters with the audience I had seen before. Rover the Wonder Dog peeing on a camera while refusing to spruik Pal dog food has become part of the collective memory of Kennedy’s contrived mayhem, revisited whenever television (especially Channel Nine) embarks on one of those moments of self-memorialisation with which it marks each milestone.

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Malicious Intent by Kathryn Fox & The Walker by Jane Goodall

August 2004, no. 263

About to present a lecture to medical students, pathologist Dr Anya Crichton notes optimistically, in Kathryn Fox’s new novel, that the word ‘forensic’ in the title will pretty much guarantee her a full house. Sadly, when the overstressed and overambitious students discover that the topic is not going to figure on their exam paper, a significant number depart, therefore missing out on such compelling topics as how to spot the suspicious death of a diabetic, or when to accuse the family pet of snacking on the deceased.

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In last year’s Cat Catcher, Caroline Shaw established her detective heroine, Lenny Aaron, as one of the most original characters in recent Australian crime (Cat Catcher was runner-up for the Australian Crime Writers Association Ned Kelly Award for best first novel). Gaunt, weird looking, an obsessive compulsive with a phobia about being touched and a serious addiction to over-the-counter drug cocktails, Lennie is in the tradition of dysfunctional and damaged investigators muddling their way through recent crime fiction.

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Silver Meadow by Barry Maitland & An Uncertain Death by Carolyn Morwood

April 2000, no. 219

Five pages from the end of Silver Meadow, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, an effect not only of the thrilling denouement, but also a genuine frisson of aesthetic delight at a perfectly judged conclusion. Silver Meadow is a book which deserves to be noticed, not only by devotees of the police procedural (it is at least as good as anything Rendell, James or Rankin have written) but also by anyone with an interest in narrative form, the politics of contemporary space and/or rampant consumerism. This is a ‘seriously’ good book about sex and shopping.

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