David Whish Wilson

For this reviewer, the sign of a healthy crime-fiction ecosystem isn’t merely the success of the ‘big names’ but also the emergence of writers whose voices are so distinctive as to be singular. Sometimes these writers become commercially successful in their own right, and sometimes they remain literary outliers, drawing their readership from a smaller but avid following. When I think of the health of American crime fiction in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I recall not only the success of Mario Puzo, but also the kind of writing culture that sustained the dark vision of an author such as George V. Higgins. The same goes for Britain in the 1980s, where Dick Francis was still publishing prolifically when Derek Raymond emerged. Turning to twenty-first-century America and the success of writers like Michael Connelly and Karin Slaughter, it’s the rise of Megan Abbott and Richard Price that illustrates the full potential of that culture’s capacity for crime storytelling.

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One of the few advantages a contemporary writer of historical fiction has derives from working in a context with laxer censorship laws. Representations of sexuality and violence once proscribed can be incorporated to better approach the social conditions of the period. With regard to narratives about Australia’s convict history ...  

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Last year in New York, I visited the Mysterious Bookshop, Manhattan’s only bookstore specialising in crime fiction. The otherwise knowledgeable bookseller had heard of three Australian crime novelists: Peter Temple, Garry Disher, and Jane Harper ...

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Just one thing can shape your whole life’ is one line in a novel of four hundred and fifty pages, but it is telling in its application toward the characters of this brilliant début novel. Set on the Hawkesbury River in 1806, the cast of characters is large and yet we find each of them living with the consequences ...

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The Coves by David Whish-Wilson

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October 2018, no. 405

A small bay is a cove, and so is a man, according to old-fashioned slang. The Coves takes advantage of this coincidence: it’s a story about a gang of men that rules ‘Sydney Cove’ in the mid-nineteenth century. But this is not the familiar Sydney Cove in New South Wales. There is another one ...

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Every Chris Womersley novel represents a significant departure from the last. Following his award-winning and magnificently dark début, The Low Road (2007), and his Miles Franklin shortlisted Bereft (2010), and Cairo (2013), City of Crows is his first novel set entirely outside Australia. An acutely crafted historical fiction, it ...

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Perth by David Whish-Wilson

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February 2014, no. 358

Once regarded as a provincial backwater, Perth has been transformed by the latest mineral resources boom into the nation’s fastest-growing city. The world’s most isolated capital, it is also one of the most outward-looking: a land of ‘porous boundaries’ and endless possibilities, where time and distance are illusory, and the collective gaze of its citizens has, from the first, been resolutely fixed upon the future; and yet it remains a site of ‘great contradictions’. ‘Spacious yet claustrophobic’, open but secretive, it is a place where Georgian buildings sit alongside glass towers; where nostalgia for a ‘vanished frontier’ infects the prevailing mood of optimism; and where, in winter, even the iconic Swan River flows in two directions at once, the rainwater from the Darling Scarp washing seawards above the salty incoming tide beneath. Faced with these competing views, author David Whish-Wilson goes in search of the essential Perth and finds a people and a place shaped by ancient and modern forces.

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Zero at the Bone by David Whish-Wilson

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November 2013, no. 356

In Zero at the Bone, David Whish-Wilson envisions Perth in 1979 at the height of a major gold mining revival stimulated by price increases associated with the end of the gold standard in 1971. Perth is booming, and the culture of greed and excess that will characterise the 1980s is already well entrenched.

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