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: THE ROBBERS, Paul Anderson

  • Published by Hardie Grant Books 2012
  • ISBN 978-174270465-4
  • 409 pages
  • source: review copy

Synopsis (ABC Shop)

The Victoria Police Armed Robbery Squad has long been considered the hardest and most feared group of Victorian detectives. They operate without fear or favour.

Newspaper journalist Ian Malone, new to the city
crime beat, has assigned himself a story: uncover the truth about the enigmatic squad. Have the men from “The Robbers” been demonised or is their hard-arm reputation deserved? It is a time of disruption and change. Force command and a new police ethics commission want the Armed Robbery Squad disbanded. Apart from political enemies, the squad has a
new nemesis on the street: a vicious bandit prepared to shoot robbery victims – and detectives.

The Armed Robbery Squad men, for so long the hunters, have become the hunted.

As Malone builds a unique and unexpected bond with the squad he is enticed into a sometimes dark, seedy and seductive world where right can be wrong and wrong can often be right: a grey world of honour versus politics. “Heat” meets “Animal Kingdom” in this gritty and dirty crime saga.

The Robbers takes the reader into a world where cops and bandits fight a silent war; a world where the most dangerous enemies might just be the bureaucrats and the
political powerbrokers. Honour versus politics in a grey world where nothing is as black and white as the media makes it appear.

My Take

In the beginning we are told

Paul Anderson spent fourteen years as a police reporter with the Herald Sun before becoming the newspaper’s chief court reporter in 2009. He has won team Walkley and Quill awards for crime coverage and most recently won a joint Quill for the Best Feature in Print. Paul is the author of five true crime books. This is his first novel.

And I certainly hope it is not his last: the writing is assured and fluent, the background stories authoritative and cohesive, and the central plot(s) keep you reading right until the end.

The style of policing administered by the Robbers (The Victoria Police Armed Robbery Squad) has become unpopular with the general public, answering violence with violence. And through the thread  of the investigation into a spate of armed robberies the author asks the question: whether the Robbers are morally better than those they hunt. And they are not above a little bit of corruption here and there. But we ask ourselves whether that is the price we pay for feeling safe in our beds.

THE ROBBERS is noir and gritty, and reminds me a lot of the new breed of Irish writers. And yet there is definitely an Australian flavour to it, not just the colloquial language and the Melbourne setting.

My rating: 5.0

Other reviews to check:

Review: THE ROBBERS by Paul Anderson

The Robbers by Paul AndersonOn 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