The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott. A review by John Cook

The Holiday Murders

In an earlier note, I pointed out that I had read the sequel to this volume and hoped to read the first of what is an anticipated trilogy. This I have now done and I am not disappointed. The characters encountered in ‘The Port Fairy Murders’ are all established in a rattling good detective tale set in Christmas Eve 1943 Melbourne.

This is a great mixture of wartime atmosphere with links to fascist groups and their nudism-loving sympathisers and the central characters of Jewish Detective Joe Sable, who is coming to grips with what that means in contemporary Germany, and the emerging psychopath George Sparrow. The subsidiary characters especially the interesting interloping female detective Constable Helen Lord are also introduced and well-defined.

The initial murders are apparent suicide-murders and gruesome in the extreme as Gott leads us into confusion as to how much motivation is viciously or stupidly political and how much is pure mindless malevolence.

The tone and colour of the setting is flawless in my eyes and evokes the period and its interests and pressures expertly. Once again, the names are a delight – how about Xavier Quinn for a bloodily crucified corpse? There are lesbians and gay men with a beautifully sketched insight into the meeting practices of gay men at that time and the kind of paranoia that was rampant. At least one continuing gay character is found in both books and I look forward to the third in the series for a final resolution and to appreciate the full rounding of the characters I have come to enjoy.

Both ‘The Holiday Murders’ and ‘the Port Fairy Murders’ have my recommendation and I anticipate the end of the trilogy.

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