SMOKE AND MIRRORS by Kel Robertson. The 2nd in the Bradman Chen series.
Brad Chen is a member of the AFP (Australian Federal Police). He is Chinese Australian.
In SMOKE ND MIRRORS Brad is recovering from injuries he received in the first book (DEAD SET) and is persuaded to return to work part time by his friend and superior officer, "Talkative". A retired politician from the 1970's Whitlam Government has been found murdered with his editor. He has been working on a book which he claims will reveal all about the inside story of the Whitlam Government's controversial dismissal by the Governor General in 1972.
When Brad starts to dig deeper some nasty characters begin to emerge from the woodwork, all of them seemingly determined to inflict major physical harm on him.
Why are the Russian mafia interested in a book about 1970s Austrlaian politics? And who the heck hired a bunch of South African mercenaries to dash about the landscape ambushing people and sometimes bumping them off?
Smoke and Mirrors was one of the joint winners of the 2009 Ned Kelly Award and deservedly so. Brad Chen is a cyncial, wise-cracking police officer who operates according to his own conscience. His new offsider is a tall skinny red-head with the surname of Filipowski who is very close-mouthed about his private life.
What I enjoyed about DEAD SET was the banter between Brad and Filipowski. Very entertaining stuff. There is a fun little diversion when Brad meets up with a journalist acquaintance who is in trouble after writing an editorial for his blog after a choof and a drink too many one night. It's about George W. Bush's reasons for invading Iraq which is politically incorrect in the extreme and very very funny.
There's quite a bit of action as well as an entertaining mystery. And then there are the nickames: Talkative, Voodoo, Baby's Arm (don't ask.)
I'm not sure how well SMOKE AND MIRRORS would travel outside Australia. It requires a knowledge of the events of 1972 in Australian politics and the various conspiracy theories that surrounded it. If you know about this stuff or are prepared to do your homework prior to picking up the book, then it is going to be worth it.
The sad thing about Smoke and Mirrors is that after having his first book DEAD SET taken up by an Australian publisher, the author, Kel Robertson, had to finance the publishing of SMOKE AND MIRRORS himself. I hope the Ned Kelly win will mean he won't have similar problems in the future - he deserves better.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS is available from the publisher's website at a cost of $22.00 plus postage
Scroll about 2/3 way down the page asnd click on BUY NOW .
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