Crime Fiction

New Release from Dorothy Johnston - 'The Swan Island Connection'

October release of ‘The Swan Island Connection’

The second in Dorothy Johnston’s sea-change mystery series

Release Date – 7th October, 2017: Award-winning Australian author, Dorothy Johnston, has announced the release of the second novel in her sea-change mystery series, The Swan Island Connection.

Set in Queenscliff on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula, The Swan Island Connection follows on from Through a Camel’s Eye, published in April 2016 by For Pity Sake Publishing.

Senior Constable, Chris Blackie and his deputy, Anthea Merritt, are confronted by a shocking murder that rocks the small coastal town. Criminal Investigation Unit detectives are brought in from Geelong, as Chris and Anthea become increasingly uneasy about the interest shown in the case by shadowy figures from the secret military training base on nearby Swan Island. Consigned to the edges of the investigation in their own town, the two local constables pursue individual lines of enquiry which proves a dangerous course of action.

Political commentator, Brian Toohey said this about The Swan Island Connection;

‘Dorothy Johnston has delivered an intriguing blend of social observation and crime fiction in her latest novel set in Queenscliff, Victoria. The story is spliced with a sharp sub plot involving the nearby training base for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Another strong contribution to the reputation of the nation’s novelists.’

The Swan Island Connection will be launched by Garry Spry, Hon. President of the Queenscliff Historical Museum, and the former State Member for Bellarine (1992-2002) at the Queenscliff Brewhouse on October 7th at 4pm. RSVP for this free event by the 4th of October: info@thebookshopatqueenscliff.com.


 

Dorothy Johnston was born in Geelong and lived in Canberra for thirty years before returning to Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula where The Swan Island Connection and its predecessor, Through a Camel’s Eye, are set.

Johnston is the author of eleven novels, including a quartet of mysteries set in Canberra, the first of which, The Trojan Dog, was joint winner ACT Book of the Year, and runner-up in the inaugural Davitt Award. The Age gave it their ‘Best of 2000’ in the crime section.

Two of Johnston’s literary novels, One for the Master and Ruth, have also been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award.

Through a Camel’s Eye, was recently mentioned in the commendation list of the Sisters in Crime 2017 Davitt Awards.


 

Pre-orders of The Swan Island Connection are available from the For Pity Sake Shop.

The Best Binge-worthy True Crime TV Shows

A couple of weeks ago, Dorothy Johnston told us about her time living close to a secret military base. The experience inspired her newest novel, The Swan Island Connection, which is available for pre-sale now. Here at For Pity Sake, we can hardly wait to unleash the book on the world. If you’ve ordered the book but are hungry for more crime inspired by true events, we’ve got you covered. Here are three true crime television series you can down in a single gulp to get you ready for the release of The Swan Island Connection.

 

Making a Murderer - Netflix

If you’re one of the few people left alive who hasn’t seen this remarkable 2016 hit, then you’re in for a treat. This dramatic examination of a stunning double murder case and its prosecution is deeply addictive. Every episode comes with new twists and turns. The documentarians have unprecedented access to everyone - the lawyers, the family, the lead suspect, and more. What begins as a simple case with DNA evidence slowly unravels into a story of corruption, exploitation and a search for justice.

 

The Keepers - Netflix

Almost fifty years ago, a nun was murdered in an ordinary American town. The case is still unsolved. The Keepers is frustratingly less open-and-shut than Making a Murderer, but it means you won’t be able to resist the temptation to become an armchair detective. In fact, the most compelling part of this fantastic series is following the journey of the small group of women who have taken up the case, disturbed by the local police’s lack of action on the matter. They uncover a far-reaching group of abuse survivors who form a unique community. It’s the examination of these survivors as the case unfolds that will keep you glued.

 

The Jinx - HBO, available on Foxtel Now

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki receives a phone call from Robert Durst: the exiled member of a New York millionaire family who is a suspected serial killer. Robert wants an interview. The series only gets weirder from there. The slick, gripping series pulls apart the evidence on multiple murder charges. At the time the series went to air Robert Durst was walking free. The series helped to put charges back on him, and he’s currently awaiting trial. It’s a disturbing portrayal of a dark corner of humanity.

 

Don’t delay, pre-order your copy of The Swan Island Connection now.

Conjuring Compelling Atmosphere in Crime Fiction

In Dorothy Johnston’s Through A Camel’s Eye, the author provides a consistent stream of arresting, enigmatic images. The book, like its cover, offers dreamy glimpses into the internal lives of a quiet country town and its hard-working policemen. The ability to capture and harness a moment, almost pressing pause on the action to create a picture, is a cornerstone of great noir and crime writing. It is the poetic foundation of Nordic noir, popularised by Larsson, Mankell and others. Despite the fact it doesn’t have as cold and snowy a climate as Switzerland, Australia still provides fantastically eerie frozen moments if the right author is there to pick them out. Such is the case with Johnston’s Through A Camel’s Eye. Through a Camel's Eye

The book’s opening is a clear demonstration of this skill:

“In the pale green twilight, a woman was leading a young camel round a paddock. Camilla Renfrew stopped on the seaward side of the fence to watch. The woman was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, riding boots, and looked distinctly youthful too. Her short hair caught the light and glowed green-gold. She seem intent on what she was doing and did not glance in Camilla’s direction.

It was a trick of the twilight, Camilla thought, to make of fading a lasting brilliance, stretching the day out longer than it had any right to be. And this girl, with her long legs, striding with her long-legged beast, drawing him behind her on a rope - across a paddock in which new growth was just beginning to make its way through last year’s dead grass - this too, was a trick of the light, to hold the scene taut in an attitude of praise.”

There’s a lot going on here. Notice the twice mention of ‘green’ in the first paragraph. Once in reference to the twilight, the other in reference to the woman’s hair. We only get one mention of the fact that we’re in a coastal area with Camilla resting on the ‘seaward’ side of the fence, but the ocean feels present here, through the repetition of green. This adds a flavour to the dead grass as well. There’s sandy soil in the mind’s eye - even though sand is never mentioned.

The second paragraph is just two sentences. The second sentence paints a picture - conjuring the woman, the beast, the rope, the grass, the light, all in a single breath. Its a layered image, and the rhythm of the sentence supports this, building up clauses before holding it ‘taut’. The idea of ‘taut’ and the whole scene being a ‘trick’ also inevitably gives the image an uneasiness and tension. It is a crime novel after all, and even though this is a woman watching another woman walk a camel, there’s some sense of danger coming, some false pretence to the scene.

It is also, of course, beautiful. It’s a beautiful picture. But much like a good food writer will never write the word ‘delicious’, Dorothy never describes it as ‘a beautiful sunset’. Instead, she opts for clear and precise details. It gives us not only what the scene looks like, but what it feels like too.

An early introduction to character draws an instant and immediate image from the concentration on fine detail:

“…men who, when they age, age suddenly, shrinking and shrivelling, a thousand fine lines appearing all at once, their skin drying and flaking as though at the switching off of an internal sprinkler system.”

This poetic construction of nothing more than a gentleman’s skin creates a powerful image of character. We feel we not only know something about how this man looks, but how he feels, and his relationship with his age.

Such imagery and poetics is blistered across Dorothy’s work, making it readable and immensely enjoyable. Any lover of great crime will enjoy Through a Camel’s Eye. You can purchase a copy here.