These eighteen stories are about crime. That means they’re essentially about love, hate, greed, revenge and power. So they are, of course, also about relationships. Most of them explore how ordinary people can be driven to extraordinary behaviour. The characters in these stories are just that: they’re not gangsters, or terrorists, or professional crooks; they are simply ordinary people. More
These eighteen stories are about crime. That means they’re essentially about love, hate, greed, revenge and power. So they are, of course, also about relationships. Most of them explore how ordinary people can be driven to extraordinary behaviour. The characters in these stories are just that: they’re not gangsters, or terrorists, or professional crooks; they are simply ordinary people with ordinary lives – until stuff happens to them.
Most of the stories were written for the seven themed anthologies of short crime fiction published by CrimeWriters Queensland between 1996 and 2008. This writing and publishing group decided to celebrate dastardly deeds in their own backyard, so most of the stories are set in Queensland.
What is it about Queensland? Despite its sophisticated cities, this vast and varied northern state of Australia has something of the air of the last frontier with its wild weather, its magnificent but dangerous coastline, its steamy tropics and its harsh outback. It’s bred people who are survivors – and sheer survival can often be at risk – who are generous and resourceful but a bit contemptuous of rules, regulations and due process, who can be prone to take the law into their own hands. Other Australians see Queensland as the last refuge of the eccentric and the outlaw, in both private and public life. Some of these traits have seeped into these stories.
In the title story Murky Waters the pursuit of one news item uncovers a long-standing saga – and is the debut of journalist Annie Bryce, who went on to become the protagonist in a five-book series; she also features in Beyond Understanding and Deeds and Descendants, stories which reach back to dramas and scandals long past.
Motive drives stories as well as characters: Remembrance Day explores vanity and vengeance; The Greater Good sees a young woman in the nineteenth century rebelling against her choices in life; Taken at the Flood is about booze, fear and desperation.
The Invisibility Factor gives a woman of a certain age anonymity, which she puts to good use – or does she? The Great Divide finds a city girl battling the realities of life – and death – in the bush; in Jonah’s Legacy disaster strikes at a conference on whale research; Where’s Fitzy? has terrified outsiders trapped with redneck insiders in a New Zealand hunting lodge; in Love is like Measles infatuation comes at a high price; and Entrapment is all about power.
Some of these tales are set in the city; others happen at the beach, on an island, in the outback; and yet others travel elsewhere. Despite their diversity, the stories do, however, have one thing in common: they’re all intended to entertain.