I’ve spoken about The Murray Whelan Thrillers before. They’re a good set of books and they highlight the Melbourne political scene very nicely. In this book Murray is in the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament currently ‘doing the rounds’ having a working lunch with his old mate and mentor, Charlie Talbot, when Charlie drops dead of a heart attack. In between grieving for his good friend, arranging the funeral and trying to arrange a love life, Murray finds himself investigating a murder. I’m not even going to mention the ALP preselection to try and fill Charlie’s recently vacated seat.
This book is set in 1997 during the lead up to the Y2K changeover and during the opening of the Crown Casino. These are both mentioned, in part due to Murray needing a plus one to take to the opening ceremony. The Premier of Victoria is called Kenneth Geoffries, a very thinly disguised pseudonym for our Premier of those times, Jeff Kennett.
In the previous books I’ve read, Murray Whelan is a rather naive man who does as he’s told and investigates things and just happens to find himself in a better job at the end of the book. In this book he’s matured a lot (he’d better, he’s now 50 and his son, Red, is having driving lessons) and he’s able to work the situations to his advantage. Yes, he ends up with a better job at the end of the book but this time it feels like he’s actually done the manipulating himself rather than having someone do it for him. It’s still got the flavour of the previous books, it’s just that Murray is older and, we hope, wiser. He’s starting to be more serious about taking care of his health and is running more often, the house is no longer falling down and he seems to have his life together.
This is Shane Maloney at his best. I’m sure I’ve spoken before about how politically naive I am so it’s really interesting to get a good insider’s view of the whole political machinations and to get a good understanding of the shenanegins. Maloney has a knack for writing in the vernacular while making it understandable by people outside the system. He’s taken a situation, shown how it could have happened and then shown us the politics behind the situation and then the wrap up so we can see one possible ending. I really could have done without the sex scenes but that’s just me and I think I understand how it could be a part of an unattached politician’s life.