Monday, 17 August 2020

Southern Cross Crime by Craig Sisterston

Southern Cross Crime | Craig Sisterson | Oldcastle Books

I've never had the chance to visit Australia or New Zealand, and the way things are going it's clear that I won't be repairing that omission any time soon. But at least it's possible to travel there through the medium of fiction, and there are plenty of good antipodean crime novels, old and new, to keep one company.

Craig Sisterson's new book Southern Cross Crime, published by Oldcastle Books, is a survey of relatively recent Australian and New Zealand crime and thriller writing. There are brief mentions of some writers of the past such as Arthur Upfield, Ngaio Marsh, and Charlotte Jay, but some other capable writers, such as Pat Flower and S.H. Courtier, don't get a mention, because the focus is on more recent work which tends to be more readily available.

Craig is a knowledgeable commentator on crime fiction, and he and I were part of a quiz team at Harrogate last year on an enjoyable evening, the sort of memory I cherish all the more right now, given the cancellation of so many crime festivals. Although he currently lives in London, he comes from New Zealand and has a good deal of insight into his subject.

The book has a foreword by that estimable author Michael Robotham and is divided into three sections. The longest is a detailed account of antipodean novels and authors by region. The second segment covers TV and film from the past quarter-century. The third is a series of short essays about particular writers, including Peter Corris, Jane Harper, Peter Temple, and Stella Duffy. There is also a useful appendix covering various award winners.

This is a good book to dip into and to keep handy for reference. Thanks to Craig Sisterson's persuasive advocacy, there are a number of authors I'm now keen to read for the first time; he's also managed to reinforce my enthusiasm for several others. Among many lines that caught my eye, I was tempted by 'an amateur sleuth who is also a professional cricketer', namely Mario Shaw, the creation of Carolyn Morwood, a name previously unknown to me. There are plenty of other intriguing references that will encourage readers to add to their TBR piles. This is definitely a useful addition to the crime fan's bookshelf.

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