OR: Crime Factory #6

A review that originally appeared in The Fix #5:-


Edited by David Honeybone

This Australian magazine is neatly produced, but with no artwork other than an indifferent cover (a masked guy with a gun produced during the artist’s brown period), though it does have lots of photographs, book covers etc, and a comic strip, so visually far from being a blank slate. As the title would suggest its brief is the crime genre, with heavy emphasis on non-fiction and the scene down under. There’s a report on the latest Ned Kelly Awards and fourteen pages of book reviews, and an interview with Tara Moss, the latest celeb turned writer, a model whose Fetish has out-sold Ian Rankin, at least in Australia (the interviewer pointedly observes, ‘this doesn’t make her a better writer. But she’s got a bitchin’ publicist’. Quite). Luminaries such as Elmore Leonard offer advice on the craft of writing, much of it with a wider application than the crime genre. There are some quirky articles too. Jim Doherty rates his top ten of police procedural novels set in Chicago, and by way of counterpoint ex-cop Charlie Shafer mulls over the eating habits of his former windy city colleagues. John Scott takes a look at the life and career of Judge Dee creator Robert van Gulik. Elsewhere we have an overview of Raymond Chandler’s Hollywood career and an up close and personal take on From Hell, putting forward the view that Frederick Abberline is just another superhero, but without the tights. It’s all pretty decent material, and while only of compelling interest to the dyed in wool crime aficionado reading it shouldn’t do the rest of us any harm.

The fiction, what little there is of it, comes as something of an afterthought, and is the least of what this issue has to offer. Comic strip ‘The Juicer’ delves into pro-wrestling and the criminal underworld, but while the artwork was more than competent and the dialogue gratifyingly glitzy, as Part Five of an ongoing series and with no plot summation I just couldn’t get into the story. The two text pieces don’t fare much better. ‘Birthing the Demons’ by Josephine Pennicott captures the anguish of a mother whose teenage son has murdered their elderly neighbour. There’s plenty of quality hand wringing but it doesn’t have anything new to say on the subject or any insight into the mind of the killer. Lee Bemrose’s ‘Quick’ is the familiar set up of an undercover cop getting in over his head when a drug deal goes wrong. The writing (all short, choppy sentences) never really draws the reader in and the deliberately vague note on which it ends feels more like indecision than any deliberately engineered attempt at ambiguity.

I wish I could be more positive, but unless you have a real hard on for crime fiction and are also Australian, chances are Crime Factory is a suspect you won’t want to take into custody.

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