Review: WINTER CHILL, Jon Cleary

  • originally published 1995
  • audio book published by Chivers 2011
  • playing time 9 hours 40 mins
  • Narrator Christian Rodska
  • ISBN 978-1-4458-1306-6
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (

It is 3.30 a.m. The Sydney monorail performs its endless circuit like a
pale metal caterpillar – all for the benefit of one dead passenger.

Elsewhere in the city’s bleak midwinter, Darling Harbour buzzes to the
sound of 1,000 American lawyers attending an international conference.
And that means 1,000 opinions as to who killed their president. Two
bodies later, and the more Scobie Malone fillets the heart of the city’s
legal profession, the more he cuts into an intrigue of international

My Take

#12 in Jon Cleary’s Scobie Malone series, CID police procedurals set in Sydney, that reflect current events such as the building of the Sydney Opera House and the holding of the Sydney Olympics.

Against the background of  an international conference for lawyers being held in Sydney, an American lawyer who turns out to have been born in Australia is killed. His body is discovered on the monorail and then the security guard who discovered the body is murdered.

There’s quite a bit of human interest in the story too. Scobie Malone has two teenage children and his wife discovers she has breast cancer. Scobie Malone is a principled detective who believes in thorough investigative techniques.

A good story made even better by the excellent narration of Christian Rodska.Quite an intricate plot.

My rating: 4.6

In 2004 Cleary (1917-2010) won a Ned Kelly Award for best novel for the last of the Scobie Malone books DEGREES OF CONNECTION. He also won an Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1975 for a non Malone novel PETER’S PENCE.

Jon Cleary was probably better known for the fact that he wrote THE SUNDOWNERS.

Wikipedia has a good listing of the Scobie Malone books with single sentence plot outlines.

    Cleary once stated that, “There’s more than a bit of me in Scobie. We both come from fighting Irish stock, we’re both from Erskineville, the wrong side of the tracks, and both of us slugged our way up.” Malone was a Catholic family man with rigid principles who mostly worked in Sydney, although his adventures occasionally took him overseas.
    Other regular characters in the series included:
  • Malone’s Dutch wife Lisa, who he first met working as Sir James Quentin’s secretary in The High Commissioner. She was based on Cleary’s wife Joy.
  • Malone’s partner Sergeant Russ Clements, who eventually became head of Homicide.
  • Inspector Leeds, Malone’s superior.
  • His father Con and mother Brigid (based on Cleary’s parents).
  • His children Tom and Maureen (based on Cleary’s grandchildren).

Scobie Malone (Fantastic Fiction)

1. The High Commissioner (1966)

2. Helga’s Web (1970)

3. Ransom (1973)

4. Dragons at the Party (1987)

5. Now and Then, Amen (1988)

6. Babylon South (1989)

7. Murder Song (1990)

8. Pride’s Harvest (1991)

9. Dark Summer (1991)

10. Bleak Spring (1993)

11. Autumn Maze (1994)

12. Winter Chill (1995)

13. A Different Turf (1996)

14. Endpeace (1997)

15. Five Ring Circus (1998)

16. Dilemma (1999)

17. The Bear Pit (2000)

18. Yesterday’s Shadow (2001)

19. The Easy Sin (2002)

20. Degrees of Connection (2005)

Sadly I have only one or two of this series, and that really is something I should correct.


3 thoughts on “Review: WINTER CHILL, Jon Cleary

  1. Sounds like an interesting read – if only to see see how Cleary describes the setting. I worked at the Sydney Opera House for years so anything that uses it is of interest to me. Otherwise did you feel like it was a bit far fetched?


  2. Kerrie – Oh, this does look interesting. I’m especially drawn to the body found on the monorail. That’s an intriguing concept and of course the Sydney setting interests me too. This one definitely sounds like a series I should try.


  3. Becky – it was written in 1995 and I thought the setting was good. In the light of what other, international, authors were producing at that time, no, I didn’t think it was particularly far fetched.


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