Novels of Shane Maloney

SWMBO and I have recently discovered the novels of Shane Maloney, an Australian writer who does mysteries with Murray Wheelan as the somewhat bumbling central character.

So far we’ve found 2 or 3 of the series in the local library, and it’s a really good change to be reading an Australian novel set in Australia. The scene, the people, the descriptions all have a context we can easily related to. It’s even better that Maloney is a witty writer with a prose style that is easy to sink into.

As I read fiction by different authors, there are two things that always stand out to me – the first is the construction of the story, the second is the style of the writer (the prose). A lousy construction and plot usually take a while to become apparent.

The writing style and turn of phrase are usually apparent within a few pages. In mysteries, I’m always taken aback by Sue Grafton, Robert B Parker, and to a lesser extent John Grisham. Some passages I have to read several times, looking at the way a few sentences can be put together to be descriptive, or humorous, and yet simultaneously be economical with words. Gee I wish I could write like they do!

By way of comparison, I really struggle with P.D. James, who has a tendency to use lots of words, in long flowery turgid passages that make the reading a labour rather than a pleasure.

Shane Maloney fits more into the mould of Grafton and Parker, then adds the spice of Labor party internal machination, inner-city ethnic politics and bickering, and a bumbling main character who falls into a hole and rather than thinking, tends to dig, and dig, before finally escaping his predicament.

Thoroughly enjoyable, and witty. See Dougs comment here, for a lovely quote.

And for something similar, read Naylors Canberra.

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