Review: ST KILDA BLUES, Geoffrey McGeachin

Synopsis (Publisher)

Melbourne’s first serial killer is at work and only one man can stop him.

It’s 1967, the summer of love, and in swinging Melbourne Detective Sergeant Charlie Berlin has been hauled out of exile in the Fraud Squad to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl, the daughter of a powerful and politically connected property developer. As Berlin’s inquiries uncover more missing girls he gets an uneasy feeling he may be dealing with the city’s first serial killer.

Berlin’s investigation leads him through inner-city discothèques, hip photographic studios, the emerging drug culture and into the seedy back streets of St Kilda. The investigation also brings up ghosts of Berlin’s past, disturbing memories of the casual murder of a young woman he witnessed in dying days of WW11.

As in war, some victories come at a terrible cost and Berlin will have to face an awful truth and endure an unimaginable loss before his investigation is over.

ST KILDA BLUES is the third novel in the Charlie Berlin series. Both previous novels, THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL and BLACKWATTLE CREEK, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

My Take

There is such an assured hand behind these crime fiction novels from Australian author Geoffrey McGeachin. There are plenty of historical details to place this novel in 1967, and to anchor it firmly in Melbourne. 

It is twenty years since the first novel in the series and Charlie’s son Peter has gone into the army, and his daughter Sarah has gone to Israel to learn more of her Jewish past. Charlie’s wife Rebecca has become a well known photographer with her own studio in the CBD. There’s plenty in the novel to fill in the details of what has happened in the Berlin family in that twenty years.

While there are those who recognise Detective
Sergeant Charlie Berlin’s value to the Victorian Police force, there are
also those who would love to see him fall flat on his face.

It appears that nine teenage girls have gone have gone missing in Melbourne in the last year. When number 3 was reported Charlie was taken off the case and sidetracked to the Fraud squad. Now somebody has decided that he should take over the investigation again, but on the quiet. The State Premier is Sir Henry Bolte, his own position on a knife edge, and he wants all stops pulled out. Only one of the girls who have gone missing has turned and she was found dead on the shores of the Albert Lake. An observant copper gives Charlie and his offsider Bob Roberts their first clue. 

There is a side story that surfaces in the first half of the novel about a boy who was sent to Australia from the UK shortly after the Second World War, as part of a child emigration scheme. He arrives in Adelaide and is then taken north to a mission station. This is an interesting plot line because the treatment of such children has been the focus of recent investigations, worldwide, into the way children were treated in orphanages. In Australia the investigation has provoked a Royal Commission into Child Abuse.

So there is plenty in this novel for the reader to think about. The historical validity owes a lot to meticulous research, while the principal characters come through loud and clear. There’s also a distinctively Australian flavour to the novel.

My rating: 4.9

I’ve also reviewed

4.4, D-E-D DEAD!
4.8, THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL
4.9, BLACKWATER CREEK 

The 2013 Ned Kelly Award Winners Are…

This year’s Ned Kelly Awards have been handed out this evening at a ceremony held as part of the Brisbane Writers Festival. Thanks to the #neddies13 twitter stream I can report that, In order of announcement, the winners are

TheMidnightPromiseBest First Fiction

Zane Lovitt – THE MIDNIGHT PROMISE winner

Other shortlisted titles

ThePeopleSmugglerBest True Crime

Robin De Crespigny – THE PEOPLE SMUGGLER winner

Other shortlisted titles

S.D. Harvey Short Story Award

Roger Vickery for Echoes From The Dolphin winner

Blackwattle Creek - McGeachin,15489fBest Fiction

Geoffrey McGeachin – BLACKWATTLE CREEK winner

Other shortlisted titles

Fair Dinkum Crime congratulates all the winners and shortlisted authors.

For comments from the judges visit the Australian Crime Writers Association website

2013 Ned Kelly Shortlists announced

The shortlists for the Ned Kelly Awards for excellence in Australian crime writing were announced by the Australian Crime Writers Association at the recent Byron Bay Writers Festival. The winners in each category will be announced during the Brisbane Writers Festival on 7 September 

The following links are to the reviews created on Fair Dinkum Crime except where noted. You’ve got a month to get reading so you can compare your thoughts with the judges’.

Best First Fiction

Best Fiction

The links below take you to various reviews because we’re just not into true crime here at Fair Dinkum

True Crime

Review: Blackwattle Creek by Geoffrey McGeachin

It’s September 1957 in Melbourne and Detective Sergeant Charlie Berlin has been, somewhat grudgingly, given a week’s leave from his job investigating the worst of the city’s missing persons cases. Looking forward to building a dark room for his wife, Rebecca, in their back yard Charlie thinks nothing of first talking to a friend of Rebecca’s who noticed some peculiar behaviour by the undertaker when organising her husband’s recent funeral. A combination of conscientiousness and curiosity prompts Charlie to visit the funeral home where he learns some things that trouble him. When his seemingly innocent questions result in one of his few friends being beaten up, Charlie feels unable to let the matter drop.

It’s quite brave of an author to set their second book in a series more than 10 years in time from the first. Keep up that gap period and the series will be a short one indeed by today’s standards. But it’s an excellent way to allow the central characters to display genuine personal growth between books and McGeachin made full use of the gap for that purpose. The series’ protagonist is still a policeman, still something of a loner professionally and still haunted (literally) by his wartime experiences as a RAF pilot then POW. But now he has a much-loved family, his nightmares are less frequent and he has a greater control on his behavioural excesses. With reasons to live he is an even more engaging and interesting man than when we first met him in THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL when he was not long back from the war. His attitude and approach to life has a very authentic feel to me and not only because in it I recognise traits of my father’s, like the way he can’t always put into words how much he loves his family but shows it in wonderfully practical ways like carefully shining all their shoes with polish and brushes each week (the scene in which this is depicted brought back vivid memories of my own family’s shoes being lined up for weekly polishing every Sunday night).

His wife is a strong character too, willing and ready to support and nourish Charlie when needed but there’s no hint of downtrodden housewife in Rebecca as she forges her own career and takes charge of the couple’s love life. Minor characters are nicely drawn too including a Hungarian journalist-turned-hearse driver (who is one of the good guys) and a poncey British doctor (who isn’t).

McGeachin has excelled at drawing out the small details of life that depict a time and place to perfection and I had no trouble picturing the edge-of suburbia setting of Charlie’s home, the sinister institution where nefarious activities were taking place or the inner city streets of Melbourne alive with a post-war (and post-1956 Olympics) mish-mash of cultures as immigration made its presence felt. Even the political environment of the time gets the same deft treatment as McGeachin shows us that it’s not only in the current day that governments are prepared to keep the masses in the dark ostensibly for our own good. In an odd way I found it kind of comforting to think that we probably have been through the same kinds of things as we’re experiencing now and managed to pull through with at least a shred of collective humanity and backbone intact. Perhaps there is hope after all.

Finally, though in some ways most importantly, Blackwattle Creek is a ripper of a yarn. I had no idea where the story was going to take me and needing to know kept me up late into the night. For a crime fiction author to be able to generate in me the same sense of shock as was being experienced by the book’s protagonist as he uncovered the frightening (and frighteningly credible) facts of the case is a fairly rare thing these days and I revelled in it. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book’s predecessor I think BLACKWATTLE CREEK is an even better book and one I can’t recommend highly enough.


My review of McGeachin’s first book in this series, THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL


My rating: 4.5/5
Publisher: Penguin [2012]
ISBN: 9780670075881
Length: 282 pages
Format: trade paperback
Source: I bought it

The most impressive Australian crime fiction in 2011

It’s list making time of year so here at Fair Dinkum HQ we’ve each made a list of the five Australian crime fiction titles that impressed us most this year. Not all are 2011 publications and some have yet to be released beyond our shores but this mixture of new titles by favourite authors and outstanding debuts is a cracker of a collection if I do say so myself.

Kerrie speaking here…

I’ve only read 16 Australian titles this year, and am already formulating New Years Eve resolutions that I will do better in 2012. Nevertheless the problem in picking my top reads is that so many of them were so good and it was difficult to draw a cut off line. Not all of the titles were 2011 publications either.

So here are my top 5.

My top pick was THE WRECKAGE by Michael
Robotham, published in 2011, in which our old friend Vincent Ruiz teams up with a new character, investigative journalist Luca Terracini. THE WRECKAGE is a contemporary thriller set against the background of both the world financial crisis and the attempts to build Iraq in the face of both greed and terrorism. It reflects both Robotham’s meticulous research, and his ability to create great fictional characters. He describes the main characters in a way that makes you really care about what happens to them.

I really can’t choose between the other four, so the order in which they appear is not preferential.

In Katherine Howell‘s COLD JUSTICE, published in 2010, paramedic Georgie Riley and Detective Ella Marconi are travelling similar paths, returning to work after traumatic incidents that resulted in hospitalisation and being off work for some months.  Katherine Howell has used a formula similar to the one she used successfully in both THE DARKEST HOUR, and her debut novel FRANTIC: parallel plots that advance in tandem, each generating their own sense of suspense. The link between the two plots is Detective Ella Marconi. Again the paramedic characters are new, while Marconi provides the common thread from one novel to the next.

WHISPERING DEATH, published in 2011, affirms that Garry Disher is a master storyteller, a tight and consummate plotter, a writer who could sit on any international podium along with richer and more famous crime fiction writers. This is #6 in Disher’s Hal Challis series, firmly bedded in the 21st century, and reflecting on the problems of maintaining a strong police force, chasing rapists, armed robbers, and home invaders, in the face of diminishing funding and stretched resources.

Set in post-war Australia, this time post World War Two, with a policeman returning to work in a world that will never be the same, THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL by Geoffrey McGeachin, published in 2011, reminded me a lot of the Charles Todd series. Like Ian Rutledge in that series Charlie Berlin was in the police force before the war. Although the police force was an exempt trade he volunteered for service and was posted to the RAF in Britain. He took off on 30 missions over Germany, but, in his words, landed only 29 of them and ended up in a P.O.W. camp. For me, Geoff McGeachin has hit on a winner with this new series and I hope we see more of Charlie Berlin. It appealed to me on several fronts – historical, crime fiction, Australia.

My final choice is FINAL CUT by debut West Australian author Alan Carter, also published in 2011.  What makes this novel remarkable is the way the author ambitiously forwards two plot strands in tandem. It took a bit of getting used to at first. There is little to tell the reader that you’ve changed from one plot to another, just a change of characters. Often, but not always, the plots are basically at the same point, like the interviewing of a suspect.

But there’s much more than that to keep the reader involved. There are prior links between some of the characters which are gradually teased out for us. There are genuine murder mysteries with lots of attendant red herrings. There’s a good feel for the climate in Western Australia, both physical and economic. And there is some excellent characterisation.

And now it’s Bernadette’s turn

So far I’ve managed to read 35 books by Australian crime writers this year. I’m about half way through another one which is enjoyable but I already know it’s not quite good enough to nudge any of these off the list so I don’t feel too concerned about finalising the list a few days before the end of the year.

Y.A. Erskine’s debut novel THE BROTHERHOOD absolutely blew me away. Partly this is because I had no expectations when I opened the front cover (I knew nothing about the book other than it was written by an Aussie woman) but mostly it’s because it’s bloody brilliant. A Tasmanian policeman is shot while on duty and the events of the day are recounted from different points of view – his rookie partner, the Police Commissioner, his estranged wife, the culprit etc – who each get a single chapter from which a whole picture of the leadup to and ramifications of the shooting emerges. I loved everything about this book – the structure, the flawed but believable people, the way the story kept surprising me, the themes that Erskine explored. This book is vying with one other title for the very top spot on my favourite books of the year (Aussie or otherwise) and my only complaint is that is hasn’t gotten the wide attention it so richly deserves.

Like Kerrie I’m not going to list the rest in order of preference, they’re all worth your attention.

Kathryn Fox‘s DEATH MASK was one of the first books I read this year and it ended up being the book I voted for in the reader’s choice category of this year’s Davitt Awards. It starts out simply enough with a young woman testing positive for a sexually transmitted disease that she cannot understand how she contracted given her sexual history and so she assumes there has been some mistake at the clinic. The story’s dark turn reveals the betrayal that led to her contracting the disease which in turn prompts the protagonist of the series, Dr Anya Crichton, to study the psychology of male sporting teams. It’s a topical storyline but tackled intelligently and without the moralising, quick-fix answers that mainstream media devotes to the subject and it reminded me that the best crime fiction always examines some aspect of our society or collective behaviour in addition to telling a jolly good yarn.

Australian-born, Scotland-living Helen Fitzgerald‘s THE DONOR tackles the simple but hideous premise of what a single father is to do when his twin daughters both develop a genetically inherited kidney disease. Perhaps a life of crime wouldn’t be everyone’s choice but hapless Will Marion seems somewhat short of options to save the daughters he loves. The book is both darkly funny and almost unbearably sad but not remotely maudlin which is, I think, a remarkable achievement. The father in this story is a wonderful creation: the type of person you want to slap for being so inept one minute but the next moment you want to wrap him in a giant bear hug for trying so hard.

Sulari Gentill‘s A DECLINE IN PROPHETS is the second novel set in 1930’s Australia to feature world-wandering dilettante Rowland ‘Rowly’ Sinclair and I adored it. Rowly and his friends start the book on board a cruise liner where a grim murder occurs and by the time all the players are in Australia things look very rocky for poor Rowly who unwilling caught up in an odd spiritual movement and may end up being considered an unsuitable role model for the young members of his conservative family. Whenever I talk about this book or its predecessor (something I do as often as I can) I break out in a wide grin as there is something quite joyous about the amusing, life-embracing characters that inhabit Gentill’s world, which is full of sumptuous details of the period. But there is sadness in Rowly’s life too and it’s this juxtaposition with his fun-loving ways that provides the spark of something special to the book. I am lucky enough to have an advanced copy of the third book in the series awaiting my perusal in early January and I am already grinning at the prospect. This book also wins my award for best cover of the year.

LINE OF SIGHT by David Whish-Wilson is another superb debut, this time set in Perth in Western Australia. It is a fictionalised account of the real life murder of a local brothel owner in the 1970’s and focuses on the struggle by one good cop to uncover the truth about the crime which appears to have been perpetrated by his fellow officers. What impressed me most about this book was its perfect capturing of the time and place (it really does feel like another country which is not surprising as the state has flirted with secession more than once). The characters stand out too, especially the man who was charged with heading up a Royal Commission into the case and who slowly came to realise that he’d been set up to find nothing at all. It was a somewhat brutal but entirely credible characterisation and I have thought about Justice Partridge many times since finishing the book.

Did you read any Aussie crime fiction that impressed you in 2011? Do share.

Ned Kelly Awards 2011: The Winners Are…

As is the way of things in 2011 Fair Dinkum got its up-to-the-minute news on this subject from twitter, thanks mostly to the excellent tweeting of Angela Savage (@angsavage) and a few random Melbourne Writer’s Festival attendees that I stumbled across in my hashtag searches.

But enough of that, on to the news you want to hear. Shortlisted novels in all categories are all listed below with the winners in bold and marked by an asterisk (‘cos some of you can’t see the bold). The links will take you to the relevant Fair Dinkum catch-all page for the authors we’ve talked about and reviewed here on the blog. There’s at least one review of each book in the first fiction and best fiction categories to be found here, and two of most of ’em.

Best First Fiction

*Alan Carter Prime Cut Fremantle Press

David Whish-Wilson Line of Sight Penguin Books

P.M. Newton The Old School Penguin Books


S.D. Harvey Short Story Award

Robert Goodman Southern Hemisphere Blues

* A.S. Patric Hemisphere Travel Guides: Las Vegas For Vegans


True Crime

* Geesche Jacobson Abandoned- The Sad Death of Dianne Brimble Allen & Unwin

Ross Honeywill Wasted Penguin

Lindsay Simpson & Jennifer Cooke Honeymoon Dive Macmillan


Best Fiction

Angela Savage The Half-Child Text

* Geoffrey McGeachin The Diggers Rest Hotel Penguin

Chris Womersley Bereft Scribe Publishing

Fair Dinkum Crime congratulates all the writers and gives an extra round of applause for the winners. Thanks to all of you for providing us with some great Australian reading this year.

Review: THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL by Geoffrey McGeachin

It’s two years since the end of the second World War and Charlie Berlin has returned to Australia, having been a bomber pilot in Europe then a POW in Poland. It’s fair to say Charlie’s was a grim wartime experience and he is still haunted by things he saw and did. Upon returning to work as a Detective Constable in Melbourne he learns that all the colleagues he started out with have moved up the hierarchy (the police force was exempt from the military draft and officers were discouraged from volunteering but Charlie had family reasons for joining up) and he gets all the worst assignments. Which is why he’s the one sent to rural Victoria, on the border with New South Wales, to investigate a spate of armed robberies, the latest of which resulted in a paymaster being badly injured. He arrives in town to be greeted by a young constable, Rob Roberts, who will drive him around (and report back to the local Sergeant who is not entirely happy to have someone from the city on his turf) and the two form a complementary team of investigators with Charlie supplying the experience and Roberts providing the local knowledge.

The historical aspects of the novel are extremely well done; feeling authentic through the use of interesting details but not overblown with evidence of the author’s research. Everything from the rationing that the country was still experiencing to the kinds of foods that might have been served in a country pub at that time to the photographic equipment and techniques utilised by the adventurous female photo-journalist that Charlie encounters during his investigation are both accurate and woven into the story seamlessly. Some of the less pleasant aspects of life during the time are also well depicted including the fairly shabby treatment of anyone who wasn’t white. It really did feel like I was transported back to the time, a factor helped I think by the excellent narration of the audio book in which the language and slang were pronounced to fit in with the period.

In that crime fiction has something of a plethora of men who have returned from war forever changed Charlie Berlin is not a particularly unique character. However his particular trials and tribulations are engagingly teased out and his character does have a solidly credible feel to it. Through his conversations with Rebecca Green, the photo-journalist, and the memories that sometimes stop him dead in his tracks (and send him reaching for the whisky bottle) we learn enough about his war time experiences to sympathise and feel sorrow for Charlie and the thousands of others like him.  We see too through the investigation how the war has impacted on other returned soldiers and the families of those who didn’t make it back.

In the end it is Charlie’s understanding of these impacts on various people that enables him to work out not only who has been committing the robberies but also who isn’t (and then who is) responsible for the rather grim murder that takes place while he is in the town. The crime solving here at times appears to almost be an after thought but that would be too simplistic a way of looking at things. Charlie believes that you need to know a place and its people in order to solve a crime and his meandering from crime scene to crime scene and meetings with various people in the town all do have a purpose. The upside for readers is that we too get a sense that we’re really getting under the skin of the town at the same time as we meet all manner of poignant and intriguing characters. Like the wife of the Diggers Rest Hotel publican who is beaten sometimes because her husband is enraged at having been injured before he could go to war, or the retired WWI Captain who is so convinced that communists will be invading some time soon that he is raising his own militia.

A tiny part of me is, I admit, a trifle weary from reading about the horrible experiences of people returning from wars. No matter how many times the consequences are depicted in harrowing ways we seem, collectively, to jump at almost any chance to fight and kill and hate all over again so I do sometimes wonder if there is any point. But if it is going to be done then it should be done well, and McGeachin has done a first rate job here, capturing both the universal truths that are associated with the experiences and the peculiarly Australian, somewhat laconic way of dealing with the nightmares and other repercussions (a combination of beer, football and the occasional bit of pointless biffo). With down-to-earth, very believable characters and a strong, enveloping sense of place and time THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL is a top notch work of historical crime fiction.


Kerrie has already provided her thoughts on THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL (and she enjoyed it very much)

This book is one of three which has been shortlisted in the best fiction category for this year’s Ned Kelly Awards. The other two are Angela Savage’s THE HALF CHILD and Chris Womersley’s BEREFT.


My rating: 4/5
Narrator: Peter Byrne
Publisher: Bolinda audio [2010]
ISBN: N/A downloaded from audible.com
Length: 8 hours, 18 minutes
Format: mp3
Source: I bought it

Ned Kelly Awards – short list announced

Announced 8 pm Tuesday 2 August

Best First Fiction

Alan Carter Prime Cut Fremantle Press

David Whish-Wilson Line of Sight Penguin Books

P.M. Newton The Old School Penguin Books

Best Fiction

Angela Savage The Half-Child Text

Geoffrey McGeachin The Diggers Rest Hotel Penguin

Chris Womersley Bereft Scribe Publishing

True Crime

Geesche Jacobson Abandoned- The Sad Death of Dianne Brimble Allen & Unwin

Ross Honeywill Wasted Penguin

Lindsay Simpson & Jennifer Cooke Honeymoon Dive Macmillan

 S.D. Harvey Short Story Award

Robert Goodman Southern Hemisphere Blues

A.S. Patric Hemisphere Travel Guides: Las Vegas For Vegans

Details of this year’s Ned Kelly Awards ceremony to be held as part of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival.

Review: THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL, Geoffrey McGeachin

  • Publisher:Viking (Penguin) 2010
  • ISBN 978-0-670-07273-6
  • 316 pages
  • Source: my local library

Publishers Blurb (Penguin Australia)

In 1947, two years after witnessing the death of a young Jewish woman in Poland, Charlie Berlin has rejoined the police force a different man. Sent to investigate a spate of robberies in rural Victoria, he soon discovers that World War II has changed even the most ordinary of places and people.

An ex-bomber pilot and former POW, Berlin is struggling to fit back in: grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder, the ghosts of his dead crew and his futile attempts to numb the pain.

When Berlin travels to Albury-Wodonga to track down the gang behind the robberies, he suspects he’s a problem cop being set up to fail. Taking a room at the Diggers Rest Hotel in Wodonga, he sets about solving a case that no one else can – with the help of feisty, ambitious journalist Rebecca Green and rookie constable Rob Roberts, the only cop in town he can trust.

Then the decapitated body of a young girl turns up in a back alley, and Berlin’s investigations lead him ever further through layers of small-town fears, secrets and despair.

The first Charlie Berlin mystery takes us into a world of secret alliances and loyalties – and a society dealing with the effects of a war that changed men forever.

My take:

For me, Geoff McGeachin has hit on a winner with this new series and I hope we see more of Charlie Berlin. It appealed to me on several fronts – historical, crime fiction, Australia.

Set in post-war Australia, this time post World War Two, with a policeman returning to work in a world that will never be the same, THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL reminded me a lot of the Charles Todd series. Like Ian Rutledge in that series Charlie Berlin was in the police force before the war. Although the police force was an exempt trade he volunteered for service and was posted to the RAF in Britain. He took off on 30 missions over Germany, but, in his words, landed only 29 of them and ended up a P.O.W.

Now two years after the war he has returned to work, and found that those who didn’t go are now in charge, in positions he should be occupying. He feels like a square peg in a round hole, and, like Rutledge, is sent from the city to the country to solve a crime. He is still suffering from post-war stress and has blackouts and nightmares. Like Rutledge too Charlie is met with local suspicion and hostility and demands for quick results from his superiors back in Melbourne.

McGeachin has taken care with the historical detail and it gives the novel a great feeling of authenticity. (You get the feeling that McGeachin is describing a world he knows well.) Berlin has come back to a world fractured by the war. Australian society is trying to absorb the returnees, women who took on men’s jobs during the war are expected to relinquish them, and for some of the returned servicemen there is no work. There is no excitement either. Areas like Albury-Wodonga where THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL is set are littered with munitions and equipment from abandoned army camps and weapons stashes. Some of the ex-servicemen do not believe the government is doing what it should and private militias appear to provide an answer to many problems.

You can probably tell that I very much enjoyed Charlie Berlin’s initial case and hope we see more.

My rating: 4.8

This is a very different novel to McGeachin’s D-E-D DEAD! which I also reviewed.

Other reviews of THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL to check

Geoff McGeachin’s website

D-E-D DEAD, Geoffry McGeachin

Published by Viking (Penguin Group)2005
ISBN 0-670-02931-9
283 pages
Source: Local Library

From the back cover:
From the moment Alby drops his gun on a St. Kilda tram he knows he is in for a bad day. Then his partner Harry is gunned down in a Double Bay coffee shop. By lunchtime Alby realises someone wants him dead – and they want him dead now.

My take:

Alby Murdoch is a famous photographer working for WorldPix International, a front for an Australian ultra-secret government department  D-E-D, the Department for Extra-territorial Defence. He and his partner Harry are supposed to be doing the biannual positive vetting on US personnel at Bitter Springs, a US-Australian Joint Defence Facility out in the middle of nowhere. Harry it seems found something wrong with the CIA’s list of 300 names and dates of birth of people working at the Springs.

On the surface D-E-D DEAD! has all the hallmarks of a conventional spy thriller – assassins, bombs, car chases, and the obligatory beautiful female CIA agent. But the irreverent and comedic treatment that emerges at times shows that it is a spoof. Alby and his new friend Mary Travers flee to Bali and hitch a boat ride to Broome.

An unconventional and enjoyable read if you don’t mind a bit of Australian laconic humour and slang mixed into your thriller. Not entirely my cup of tea, but I still rated it at 4.4.

McGeachin’s first novel, FAT, FIFTY & F***ED! won the inaugural Australian Popular Fiction Competition and was published by Penguin in August 2004.

D-E-D DEAD! introduced Alby Murdoch and was nominated for a Ned Kelly Award.
It was followed by SENSITIVE NEW AGE SPY in 2007, also nominated for a Ned Kelly Award.
In 2009 #3 DEAD AND KICKING was published.