On face value, ‘The Robbers’ looks to be a typical crime tale written by an author well versed in crime fictions’ true-to-life counterpart. However, the façade is quickly diminished once the pages get turning. By in large, ‘The Robbers’ is noir; the protagonists are tainted, a law unto themselves, a band of brothers with a slightly skewed moral compass, their means justify the end. Some are family men, others glorified hounds yet they all serve a common purpose – clean the street of its scum by any means necessary.
“Think footy and you think Brereton, Dipper, Rhys-Jones and Lockett. The real hard c#nts … Think Victoria Police and you think The Robbers. We still shirtfront the bad blokes.”
This line sure gets my literary senses tingling – words direct from our own brand of Aussie noir. The members that comprise the elite Armed Robbery Squad are diverse, deep, and not afraid to go against the grain. There’s something that invokes a sense of hero worship and desire to see them conquer all despite overwhelming odds against. From common criminals to IA to politicians, The Robbers are battling the world for the greater good. Sure their means are unconventional but then sometimes it takes violence to end violence.
Unofficial member, journalist Ian Malone adds another dimension to the group. His motive and means a constant question throughout the novel. Initially a carbon copy character lifted from a mainstream crime story, Anderson quickly establishes Malone as someone who has a police mentality hardened by a past many would kill to forget. Of all the colourful and interesting characters that caress the pages of THE ROBBERS, it’s Malone that tops my list.
The Free Dictionary online (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/noir) describes noir as “of or relating to a genre of crime literature featuring tough, cynical characters and bleak settings” and is “suggestive of danger or violence”. Anderson nails this definition – split knuckles, bloodied streets, and brutal bashings are commonplace. Readers emotions will run high and low as they laugh, cry, hate and love right alongside The Robbers.
Colourful characters, distinct Australian dialogue, and Aussie Rules references – this is a book purpose built for blokes and fans of crime fiction who like their stories dark and on the rougher side of life. 5 stars.
This review also appears on my blog: http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/review-robbers-by-paul-anderson.html