Review: True Crime Briefcase: The Society Murders

True Crime Briefcase: The Society Murders
True Crime Briefcase: The Society Murders by Hilary Bonney

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A pared-down, blow-by-blow description of the murder of his parents by an unbelievable moron, the sole interest for which is based upon the family involved being half as rich as Croesus. The case received some notoriety in Melbourne because of the wealthy nature of the family involved, but based on this account, the whole case is notable only for the ironic laughability of murderous halfwit Matthew Wales.

To create narrative interest out of a murder case so open and shut that the bodies are found a fortnight after they disappeared and the only viable suspect gives an unprompted full confession less than two weeks after that would take a crime writer with the storytelling flair of an Ann Rule or Truman Capote. Hilary Bonney has none of their skill. Perhaps all the truly engrossing moments were excised out of the expanded edition, but I’m prepared to doubt it. It’s much more likely to follow the formula a)high-profile murder case captures public interest, b) publisher decides to cash in, c) high profile society lawyer grabs the cash.

A recounting with no insight, no ambition, and no lessons to be learned about the human condition. whatever fleeting interest lies within its pages comes from wondering how the dullard at the heart of the story could get so many things wrong in such quick succession. This condensed volume is part of a 4-volume set called “The True Crime Briefcase”. I’m betting it’s the runt of the litter.

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Review: The English Monster

The English Monster
The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fantastic example of a novel that British authors seem to write with impunity: the fantasy novel that refuses to acknowledge itself as such, and persuades everyone else not to either. In this case, what starts out as a meticulously researched and beautifully realistic double narrative about a young sailor on Queen Elizabeth’s first sanctioned slaving voyage and the unfolding of the Ratcliffe Highway murders of John Williams some 250-odd years later develops into a gritty fantasy crime procedural involving questions of (im)mortality, the natural sciences, race politics and the class system. The ending is a little truncated, and the climax dealt with a little too easily, but the interweaving of historical figures, politics and social movements with the imagined narrative is superb, and makes for a rich and satisfying reading experience. Not at all what i was expecting when I picked up the book, but an absolute pleasure nonetheless.

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Two weeks into 2014, and the only reasonable response to life is to build a blanket fort.

Watch for the parade. But it’s okay, they have the proper permits.

This last weekend has been the hottest I’ve experienced in a number of years. Saturday night was, apparently, the hottest night Perth has ever recorded. Naturally, our air-conditioner has shat itself and died already– thanks to the fucktarded cowboy air conditioner repairmen who couldn’t even fulfil their job description last year– so we’ve resorted to living at the swimming pool, walking around with ceiling fans strapped to our heads, and this: you can’t see it, but there are three fans inside this bad boy, and the kids slept like, well, kids in close proximity to fans in an enclosed space. Still, as far as family projects go, this was a fun one.

On the personal front, ten days break over Christmas gave me the opportunity to engage in daily exercise for the first time since the last time I had ten consecutive days off, which is going back more than a year or two. Thankfully, I’ve managed to maintain the habit since returning to the day job, and I’m seeing the benefits of it. Since December 24 I’ve lost 3.2 kilograms. I’ve still got somewhere in the region of 18 to go before I’m in sight of my optimum weight, but that’s at least 3.2 that I don’t have to lose again.

I’ve been walking laps of our suburban block, playing basketball with the kids every Thursday night, and have hit the pool on several occasions to walk laps and build up my core strength by throwing children around. Cool drink had been dispensed with in favour of water– although Ginger ale and Lime made an appearance over the weekend as we tried to keep cool– and biscuit & sweeties based snacks have been discarded in favour of lashings of fruit. Nothing revolutionary, just actual changes, all at once.

And writing work has borne fruit: over the Christmas break I completed the text of a picture book entitled I Watch Monsters, and have sent it in to a publisher. It was the first– and, admittedly, smallest– of my writing goals for the year, but it’s still nice to have one scratched off this early in the piece.

So, here we are. Lyn and I are determined to achieve a much more positive year than 2013, and we’re both working hard to achieve the goals we’ve set out. Up next for me: completing the submission package for Father Muerte & the Divine and pushing the 15 000 words of Cirque up towards a full manuscript.