Crime Fiction

Miss Maude Silver, Miss Jane Marple, where are you, with your splendid and authoritative bosoms, your discreet inquiries, natural reticence, and cunning powers of deduction? Oh, a long way from these sisters in crime.

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Some years ago, a crime-writing friend of mine was at a writer’s festival with Lee Child. After a few drinks, my friend asked Child how he’d gone about preparing to write his Jack Reacher novels. Child’s reply was something along the lines of not putting pen to paper before he’d spent six months reading all of the successful crime novels he could find, and before parsing out exactly what made them popular with readers. Once this was done, he sat down to write. The rest, of course, is history.

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These are exciting times when the new normal for Australian crime fiction is strong domestic interest and sales, but also international attention in the form of Australian-only panels at overseas writers’ festivals, plus regular nominations and awards in Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Whether this is a literary fad or sustainable in the long term – with Australian crime fiction becoming a recognisable ‘brand’ in the manner of Scandi-noir or Tartan-noir – will depend largely upon the sustained quality of the novels produced here.

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Estelle Tang reviews 'Hindsight' by Melanie Casey

Estelle Tang
Monday, 26 August 2013

Cass Lehman keeps to herself – her mother and grandmother tell other residents of sleepy Jewel Bay that she is agoraphobic. Her real reason for staying in her house for the past nine years is that she has a terrifying kind of ‘retrocognition’: if Cass passes over a place where someone has died, she experiences their death. And death, as it turns out, is ...

Laurie Steed reviews 'The Dunbar Case' by Peter Corris

Laurie Steed
Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Known in certain quarters as ‘the godfather of Australian crime fiction’, Peter Corris is certainly persistent. Prior to this, he has written thirty-seven novels involving the wily, irrepressible Cliff Hardy. The Dunbar Case showcases an older but still sprightly Hardy, who deals with maritime mysteries, amorous women, and a notorious crime family.

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Scott Macleod reviews 'The Holiday Murders' by Robert Gott

Scott Macleod
Wednesday, 06 March 2013

Robert Gott’s The Holiday Murders fittingly begins with steely-eyed detectives examining a gruesome crime scene on Christmas Eve, 1943. The bodies of a father and son are found broken and bloodied in the dead of night, the son nailed to the floor in a ‘savage parody’ of the Crucifixion. From the memorable opening sequence, Gott demonstrates an int ...

Simon Collinson reviews 'The Toe Tag Quintet' by Matthew Condon

Simon Collinson
Thursday, 31 January 2013

Matthew Condon is a writer who confounds expectations. He followed his prize-winning epic novel The Trout Opera (2007) with Brisbane (2010), a meditative exploration of the city’s rich history. In The Toe Tag Quintet, he turns his hand to crime. This is not a novel but a series of novellas about a detective’s exploits following his retiremen ...

Sky Kirkham reviews 'The Midnight Promise' by Zane Lovitt

Sky Kirkham
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Midnight Promise, Zane Lovitt’s début novel, is billed not as a detective story, but as a detective’s story. It is a minor grammatical change that makes for a major shift in the focus of the tale. Here there is no major dramatic revelation – no car chase, forensic science, femme fatale. Instead, the reader is offered a character study of a m ...

Dean Biron reviews 'Promise' by Tony Cavanaugh

Dean Biron
Monday, 09 July 2012

Promise is set on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, although it might as well be Siberia so far as any claims to historical or social verisimilitude are concerned. Just about every stereotype ever devised in the name of crime fiction has been assembled here, resulting in a story so over the top as to stretch credulity beyond breaking point.

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Joy Lawn reviews 'Dead Heat' by Bronwyn Parry

Joy Lawn
Monday, 23 April 2012

Proudly popular fiction, Dead Heat is a romantic thriller set in a north-western New South Wales National Park. Organised crime in fiction generally operates in a large city or on the coastline, but author Bronwyn Parry sets her plot in the bush. The inclusion of bushland and animals creates unique plot obstacles and possibilities for both the criminals and the authorities, and it is a ...

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