Mystery and crime books from Australia. News, views, reviews, releases and author appearances - crime fiction in Australia. Crime novels, mystery novels, detective stories, police procedural books, thrillers and soft-boiled mysteries

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Reading Chris Nyst

As earlier noted, I recently enjoyed reading about Australia's most notorious bank robber Brenden Abbott in Australian Outlaw by Derek Pedley. Now, in the course of Abbott's hectic time on the run and (more pertinently) after he was caught he had cause to seek legal representation and this came in the form of Chris Nyst.

Nyst is not only a highly respected Queensland lawyer but he's a more than capable crime author (just check out the Ned Kelly Award he won for Best Crime Fiction Novel 2006 with Crook As Rookwood).

I had already read and raved about Crook As Rookwood but mention of his name compelled me to nip out and pick up copies of his other books Cop This! and Gone. I'm reading Cop This! at the moment and Nyst has obviously drawn on his vast experience as a criminal advocate setting out a deviously complex legal thriller. A feature of Nyst's writing, apart from the attention to detail with regard legal matters is the Aussie criminal slang that gives the tone of the story a unique touch.

Cop This! is set in Queensland and spans 1969 to around 1986 and features a solicitor who goes up against a corrupt pocket of police who have lined their pockets on the back of careers devoted to protection rackets and the like. The time-honoured police tradition of the 'verbal' appears like a thorn in the lawyers feet. A verbal is a contrived jailhouse confession made up by the police and was something that Brenden Abbott mentions numerous times in Australian Outlaw.

Cop This! is shaping up as a compelling courtroom thriller with a distinctly Australian flavour to it. More on Gone when I get to it, but in the meantime, take note of Chris Nyst and track down Cop This! and Crook As Rookwood if you can.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Blurring of Fiction and Real Life

I almost exclusively read crime fiction but recently I got the chance to read Derek Pedley's new biography about Australia's most notorious 20th century bank robber, Brenden Abbott. The book, titled Australian Outlaw: The True Story of Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott takes us through Abbott's life from his early days right up until his incarceration in a Queensland prison where he sits today.

As a fan of Australian fiction I couldn't help but compare it to some of novels I have read in the past - mind you the comparison was favourable - and I was struck time and again by similarities between the way Brenden Abbott operated and the fictional criminal invented by Garry Disher named Wyatt.

Like Abbott, Wyatt is the supreme professional who painstakingly prepared for a job, he studied his targets with infinitisemal care, planning for every conceivable eventuality.

Like Abbott, Wyatt didn't tolerate fools or people who were unprofessional in their attitude to the job.

Like Abbott, Wyatt had a knack for evading the law in the most creative of ways.

Where they differ of course is that Wyatt had the benefit of a carefully created plot thought up by his creator that always kept him ahead of trouble while Abbott was at the mercy of fate, bad luck and the like.

Abbott was on the run, robbing banks and escaping from prisons from 1989 - 1998, Disher's Wyatt books spanned 1991 - 1997...hmmm...

A case of life and art mirroring each other or did one base themself on the other? Either way, I heartily recommend reading about the amazing exploits of Brenden Abbott in Australian Outlaw and offer up this review for a more detailed look at the book.

You can then compare Abbott to Wyatt by trying Kickback (1991), Paydirt (1992), Deathdeal (1993), Crosskill (1994), Port Vila Blues (1995) and The Fallout (1997). I think you'll be in for a cracking good Aussie read no matter whether you go with the fact or the fiction.