Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'All Fall Down' by Matthew Condon

All Fall Down, set in 1980s Queensland, chronicles the direct and indirect links between officials and local criminals exposed by the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987–89). It is the last volume in a trilogy that largely focuses on police corruption between the 1940s and 1980s, but there is also some discussion of the cronyism, misuse of powers, and corruption within the Country Party (later National Party), which dominated Queensland politics from 1957 to 1989. Matthew Condon has constructed an entertaining and sometimes moving series of shifting narratives about crooked cops, honest cops, and dubious characters in the 'Deep North'.

The strength of Condon's work is his fascination with the people he is researching. He has some interesting characters to work with. Condon is very effective at highlighting the dilemmas facing police officers who refused to take bribes or to accept a policy of 'going slow' in the investigation of crime when it suited forces within the police department. The reader is given a clear idea of how brave it was for these men and women to fight against the system. Perhaps surprisingly, the unambiguous criminals who appear in the text – the Brisbane vice barons and the officials they bribed – come across as boring and colourless, though undoubtedly ruthless. These shadowy underworld figures probably could not believe their luck at being in the right place at the right time.

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Published in November 2015, no. 376

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