Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Anzac Day

Posted: April 25, 2016 in Australia, Historical, New Zealand, Off Topic

anzac-07Anzac Day has some significance for our family even though we live on the other side of the globe. 

My wife’s grandfather Percy Kempster DSM served in the Royal Australian Navy and sadly did not survive the war. His daughter, who remembered him as a kind father, died a few years ago at the age of 98. 

Australians and New Zealanders came in very large numbers to help defend Britain in two world wars, and one of my heroes was the Australian General Sir John Monash, whose parents were Jewish immigrants from Prussia. He commanded a brigade at Gallipoli attempting to preserve the life of his men, and rose to become commander the Australian Imperial Forces during the last decisive campaigns of 1918.

The great sacrifices made by these countries with such small populations was brought home to me  some time ago when I was searching online for the cemetery in France where my uncle was buried. I came across a small cemetery where there were only 46 soldiers buried….. 2 British and 44 New Zealanders.

Thank you brave ANZACs for your service.   

[reposted from 2014 but it is worth repeating in my opinion]

Anzac Day 2014

Posted: April 25, 2014 in Australia, New Zealand

anzac-07Anzac Day has some significance for our family even though we live on the other side of the globe. 

My wife’s grandfather Percy Kempster DSM served in the Royal Australian Navy and sadly did not survive the war. His daughter, who remembered him as a kind father, died a few years ago at the age of 98. 

Australians and New Zealanders came in very large numbers to help defend Britain in two world wars, and one of my heroes was the Australian General Sir John Monash, whose parents were Jewish immigrants from Prussia. He commanded a brigade at Gallipoli attempting to preserve the life of his men, and rose to become commander the Australian Imperial Forces during the last decisive campaigns of 1918.

The great sacrifices made by these countries with such small populations was brought home to me  some time ago when I was searching online for the cemetery in France where my uncle was buried. I came across a small cemetery where there were only 46 soldiers buried….. 2 British and 44 New Zealanders.

Thank you brave ANZACs for your service.   

THE BETRAYAL: Y.A.ERSKINE

Posted: December 16, 2012 in Australia

This was a very interesting and thought provoking novel, the second by Yvette Erskine a former Tasmanian police officer, about what happens when young thebetrayal_0police officer Lucy Howard makes an allegation of rape against a member of the Special Operations Group.

The author uses the compelling technique of  having each of the thirteen chapters take the story on from a different person’s perspective; starting with the complainant, Lucy and moving through  various other participants including the Commissioner, Director of Public Prosecutions, a psychologist, a journalist and friends of the participants and ending with the Soggy [the alleged rapist].

This keeps the reader gripped but means that we get more than a fair ration of despicable characters. The strange attitude of the females that Lucy by complaining has somehow “betrayed the sisterhood”, and that will put back the advancement of women in the police service I found hard to stomach. The majority of the male characters are corrupt and no better than the perpetrator, Nick Greaves, and Cam the man Lucy believes is her boyfriend [another cop in prison for assaulting a criminal] fails to support her.

Cam, even more so than Nick, had taught her a valuable lesson: not only could you not trust anyone, but you couldn’t rely on anyone, no matter how much you wanted to.

The Betrayal is a bleak story that shows Australia’s Federal system gives great opportunity for a level of corruption and venality at the local level that is perhaps predictable. We all know that politicians can be corrupt, and the policeforce are not a normal cross section of most societies, but I really wondered if  Tasmanians at any level really have misogynist and racist attitudes similar to  those portrayed in this book? 

Torino was one of the two token wogs in the force, a solid bloke who seemed to keep his nose relatively clean. He was slightly less annoying than the other wog, the Greek who was currently out on some weak-as-piss stress claim. 

When I have heard places such as Tasmania described as like England in the 1950s I did not think it meant they still exhibited the worst of the racial attitudes. A depressingly harsh novel that makes its point well, and with a technique that could grow on me. I look forward to another book from Yvette Erskine.  

Updating the Harry Hole series [book two is yet to be translated into English]
 
 
I have just finished reading the first book in the Harry Hole series, The Bat, first published in Norwegian in 1997, and the winner of the Nordic Glass Key in 1998.
 A young blonde Norwegian girl, Inger Holter, has been murdered and Harry is sent to Sydney to assist the local police. There he meets Andrew, an indigenous Australian policeman, from whom he learns some of the culture and traditions of the aboriginal people. Harry has a romantic affair with Birgitta, a beautiful Swedish girl who works in a bar, and unfortunately resumes a meaningful relationship with his very best friend, Jim Beam. 
Although this book, brilliantly translated as usual by Don Bartlett, is slightly raw, and at times is a bit like a travel guide of Sydney all the  potential that will be realised in the Oslo Trilogy [ The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star] and The Snowman is there. Harry’s character is almost fully developed; his love of his sister who has “a touch of Down’s Syndrome”, his insubordination, his problems with women, and his alcoholism. 
You‘re a tiny bit damaged every time you unravel another murder case. Unfortunately as a rule there are more human wrecks and sadder stories, and fewer ingenious motives, than you would imagine from reading Agatha Christie.’ 
Jo Nesbo’s technique of making you think the story is over when you can see a few hundred pages still to go, his plot twists, and surprises are there although not as polished as in the later books. The story is told entirely from Harry’s perspective which is a nice change from books that switch around with mind blowing speed. 
Even though this novel is 15 years old it is still a very good example of Jo Nesbo’s talented writing, and well worth reading for the information it relates about Australian society and little glimpses of Nesbo’s humour that will lighten the violence in the later books.
‘There was always a variety of nationalities-Chinese, Italians, Greeks. And Aboriginals. In those days volunteers could choose who they wanted to box. So, for example, if you were an anti-Semite, you could pick a Jew. Even though the chances of being beaten up by a Jew were pretty high.’ Harry chuckled.        

Empathy with Harry Hole

Posted: October 29, 2012 in Australia, Harry Hole, Norway

I am about half way through Jo Nesbo’s first Harry Hole thriller The Bat [ translated brilliantly as usual by Don Bartlett] and can clearly see the signs of the future clever twists and turns that feature in his later brilliant Oslo Trilogy [The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star]. 

The Bat [Flaggermusmannen] is set in Australia winning the Nordic Glass Key back in 1998, and harks back to that distant time when there was an Australian cricket team.

The owner of the Cricket was also the proud owner of the shirt Allan Border wore when Australia beat England four times during the 1989 Ashes series.

But it was not the ancient cricket references that grabbed my interest, but Harry’s sensible analysis of cinema history.

There were no pictures on the wall, just a poster of Braveheart with Mel Gibson-which Harry remembered only for some incomprehensible reason it won an Oscar for Best Film. Bad taste, as far as films go, he thought. And men. Harry was one of those who felt personally let down when Mad max made a Hollywood star out of him. 

Anzac Day

Posted: April 25, 2012 in Australia, England, Historical, notes

It seemed appropriate on Anzac Day to link to a post about Petty Officer Percy Kempster DSM Royal Australian Navy my wife’s grandfather.

Those of us in these little islands must never forget the sacrifices made by all the countries of the Empire, and then Commonwealth, in two world wars. I remember searching for my uncle’s grave on the Commonwealth War Graves site and finding one cemetery where  two English soldiers and forty four New Zealanders were buried!

Other Anzac Day posts from Craig at Crime Watch:Lest we forget; a special day downunder. 

And from Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise: Anzac Day 2012: We will remember them 

The results are in for Crime Scraps Poll no 2, and the main conclusion is that I did not list the correct countries! 

There were 36 votes cast, and very surprisingly not a single one for France [four times winner of the CWA International Dagger] or Argentina, whose Ernesto Mallo was picked by several of us as favourite for this year’s International Dagger. My excuse for not picking Ireland as one of the countries listed was that we have already had a mini hot spot there with some fine writers  such as Ken Bruen, Declan Burke, Rob Kitchin, Tana French, Benjamin Black, KT McCaffrey, Adrian McKinty, Gene Kerrigan,  Brian McGilloway and others producing some stimulating crime fiction. A poor excuse for a mental slip up. 😮

The results: South Africa 8, Italy 7, Ireland 5, Australia 4, Canada 2, Spain 2, Germany 2, Greece 2, and one vote each for Eastern Europe, Scotland, New Zealand and Japan. 

Thanks to everyone who voted.