If I Tell You … I'll Have to Kill You, edited by Michael Robotham

Geoffrey McGeachin’s number one writing rule is Real writing is rewriting. Gabrielle Lord’s is Make writing your first priority, and Peter Corris doesn’t want to set rules but does advise learning from both mistakes and successes. With nineteen others, these crime writers share their journey to publication, their writing processes, tips and rules, and recommended reads in If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets.

Whilst suitable for anyone with an interest in crime fiction or true crime, this offering is most likely to appeal to writers (and aspiring writes) of the genre. The contributors are all multi published Australian authors, who’ve also had success on the international stage. Though crime is the common ground, the range of their writing focus is broad – from true crime, to detective novel, to historical fiction and more.

Because each chapter is contributed by a different author, the book can be either read cover to cover or dipped into, and while the focus is crime writing, writers of all interests and levels of experience are likely to find value in both the writing advice and the sharing of journeys to publication (and beyond).

Other contributors include Kerry Greenwood. Garry Disher, Barry Maitland and Leigh Redhead.



If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets, edited by Michael Robotham
Allen & Unwin, 2013
ISBN 9781743313480

Available from good bookstores and online.

Crime Time, by Sue Bursztynski

This is Crime Time, so get ready to discover Australia’s very own gallery of rogues – an Aussie litany of heinous crimes, dastardly deeds and terrifying tales…
The human race is extraordinarily divers ein its interests. Some people are captivated by shoes and clothes, some engrossed with football or cricket or snowboarding, some would never be parted from their music players and some cannot turn off their mobiles although their texting thumbs are weak with overuse. Yet everyone – whether it be reluctantly or eagerly – is fascinated by wicked misdeeds and illegal acts.

Australians are often keen to claim convicts for ancestors, no matter how tenuous the link, but here is a collection of characters we might not be so keen to claim. From the earliest white visitors there have been those who choose not to follow, or sometimes stray from the path. Crime Time presents Australians, some infamous, some famous, some obscure, but all criminals. Their stories vary from the foolish to the macabre, from the accidental to the truly evil. No sector of the community is overlooked: there are wealthy, poor, young and old villains boy men and women. Many entries include sketches of the character described.

Crime Time is organised chronologically, beginning with a persuasive sailor in 1629, and finishing up with cases still fresh in the public memory. There is an introduction from Kerry Greenwood, a contents page, and a detailed index to the characters mentioned. Entries are relatively short, three-four pages, with info boxes providing snippets on some of our less salubrious citizens. Sue Bursztynski has presented information in an almost conversational and sometimes humourous style, easily accessible to readers. There is plenty of gory detail, but it’s not so graphic as to cause nightmares. For the budding criminologist keen to learn more, the bibliography provides books and website details. From poisoning grannies, to bumbling burglars, this is an extensive rogues gallery. Recommended for upper-primary boys and beyond.

Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly

Crime Time – Australians Behaving Badly, Sue Bursztynski
Ford St Publishing 2009
ISBN: 9781876462765

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

All Things Bright and Beautiful, by Susan Mitchell

On the one hand, the good people of Adelaide want it to be prosperous and successful as a modern twenty-first century city; on the other, they don’t want anything to change, and they certainly don’t want large influxes of outsiders discovering how wonderful the lifestyle is and coming to live here.

After the contents of a disused bank vault in South Australia’s Snowtown were discovered and the ‘bodies in the barrels’ killings became public knowledge, Adelaide became the focus of much negative publicity, even being labelled by one British tabloid as ‘the murder capital of the world’.

Susan Mitchell, born and raised in Adelaide but no longer resident there, returned to the city for the trial of the suspects, with the intention of writing a feature article. That article grew into this book.

This is not just a book about the body in a barrel killings, or about its subsequent trial, although of course both topics are explored in depth. Mitchell is equally concerned with exploring Adelaide’s physical and social makeup and answering a question which troubles her – how did Adelaide come to be the scene of such crimes?

Mitchell explores this question using a variety of text styles – a little fiction, quotes from court reports, interviews, personal recall and more, which makes the story very personal and also very readable. It also lessens the harsh impact of a story which is throughly chilling.

All Things Bright and Beautiful is not a comfortable book to read – but it is gripping and very well written.

All Things Bright and Beautiful, by Susan Mitchell
Macmillan, 2004

The Society Murders, by Hilary Bonney

When wealthy Melbourne socialite Margaret Wales-King and her husband Paul King went missing in April 2002, the media – and the whole of Australia – were intrigued. Here was a story whcih provided a glimpse into the workings of a welathy family, with all the makings of a Dallas-style soap opera. The finding of the couple’s bodies in a bush grave twenty-five days later added to the drama.

The couple had been murdered, and the only motive apparent to most onlookers was money. Suspicion fell on the couple’s family and, very quickly, on their youngest son.

When Mrs Wales-King’s son Matthew was arrested for their murder and his wife was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, the full facts of the case began to emerge. Matthew Wales was adamant that he had killed his mother and step-father not for their money but for their attitudes and actions towards him. He felt disempowered and felt killing the couple would free him.

The Society Murders presents the story of the murders and their aftermath in well-researched detail exploring the family history, the investigation and arrests, and the pschology of the killer and impact on his extended family.

Author Hilary Bonney is a Melbourne-based barrister with extensive experience in the criminal jurisdiction and a forensic medicine consultant.

An intriguing story.

The Society Murders, by Hilary Bonney
Allen & Unwin, 2003