5 November 2020 Susannah

Bush Noir

Outback Australia by Zombaba

Are you familiar with the term ‘Bush Noir’?

As many of you know, I love a good crime novel, and it delights me that Australian crime writers are currently flavour of the month. Their books are known as ‘Bush Noir’, ‘Beach Noir’, ‘Outback Noir’ and even ‘Red Dirt Crime’. The sometimes harsh and unforgiving landscapes of rural Australia can be wonderfully atmospheric places for a literary murder, while drought, fire and the pressures of bank loans can be compelling forces that drive fictional characters to kill.

Since my last newsletter, I’ve been thinking about Australian writers. I wanted to share news of the exciting meetings planned with some of this country’s most talented crime writers on my Australian tours next year. For some years now, I have loved reading the latest Rowland Sinclair novel by Sulari Gentill. These books are set in Australia in the 1920s and Sulari’s knowledge of the history of that era is skilfully interwoven with the crimes that her hero has to solve. It will be such a privilege to meet with Sulari and hear her talk about her approach to her novels and her various inspirations. That meeting is included on my Snowy Mountains tour.

Chris Hammer was horrified that just as he was finishing his book Scrublands, Jane Harper’s best-selling The Dry appeared. He thought his own book could never compete. He needn’t have worried! Jane Harper’s book just made international publishers even more eager to have another book set in a drought-stricken Aussie community, and Scrublands was a huge success. Hammer followed that up with Silver set on the coast, so it’s an example of ‘Beach Noir’ – just reading it makes you long to eat fish and chips by the ocean! I am thrilled that Chris Hammer will be joining my tour group on that same Snowy Mountains tour, to share his insights about the outback and coastal murders in his fiction.

My Victorian tour will include a meeting with Dorothy Johnston whose excellent ‘Sea-Change Mystery’ series is set in the Victorian seaside town of Queenscliff. Her novel Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune concerns the murder of a literature academic who is a specialist on the writings of Australian classic writer Henry Handel Richardson. There’s been the odd literature academic I could cheerfully have murdered, so I’ll be fascinated to hear what Dorothy has to tell us about that book as she takes us on a guided walk around the locations of her novel.

The redoubtable Miss Phryne Fisher is also from Victoria and she travels to Queenscliff as well as around several Victorian country towns. My tour in Victoria will follow in her beautifully shod footsteps too. And we’ll see places connected with Arthur Upfield, Garry Disher and Kiwi crime writer Paul Cleave on my planned tours for 2021.

Do consider giving some of these excellent writers a try. If the rest of the world is discovering the thrills of ‘Bush Noir, then those of us who live here should too! Have you already read some of these titles, if so do you have a favourite? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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Featured image credit- Outback Australia by Zombaba, Pixabay, https://pixabay.com/photos/outback-australia-flinders-ranges-2906996/
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