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Flank Street (The Sydney Quartet Book 1) Kindle Edition
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British Micky turns up on his boat in Sydney, looking for criminal opportunities to make money and he heads for The Cross. The book charts his highs and lows; he goes from having hundreds of thousands of dollars and blowing them on gambling, women, and alcohol, to living on the street.
He's a complex character with an indeterminate past, all we know is he's been around a bit, but we learn this isn't his first encounter with crime.
It's very much a crime noir novel, in terms of style, characters and dialogue, and with the protagonist playing the anti-hero for the most part, yet, he appears to have some scruples. The writing is terse, simple, and in the first person. We see the world through Micky's eyes and his alone. And, we come to know the women he meets, or we know them as much as he does. With everyone, there is always a question about who they truly are. The story focuses on how people establish relationships when no one can really trust anyone.
Sendall keeps the mystery and intrigue going throughout the book, with an amazing epilogue.
He also uses the prologue in an interesting way, in that he starts with the ending of the story to introduce how he arrived at his current position in Sydney. I liked the originality with the way he has used traditional novel construction for his own ends. Somewhat like his main character uses everyone, and who is after all, the narrator. Rather than chapter numbers, Sellars uses clever and appropriate titles for each chapter too.
This book is a page-turner for anyone who likes noir thrillers/mysteries/ I received this book free of charge from the author in return for an honest review.
So why would Australia be any different? He becomes a ‘burglar, barhop and arsonist’ in King’s Cross, Sydney’s red light district, where tourists, locals, gangsters and sex workers go about their daily business.
Written in the first person, Micky’s observes the dysfunctional world around him with suspicion. And he’s right. You can’t trust anyone who inhabits Sydney’s underbelly, least of all Micky. In Micky, the author has created a most unreliable narrator. And even though this reader didn’t particularly like him, the characterisation is utterly convincing, as is the depiction of King’s Cross at the time (pre-Olympics and before the high earning corporates moved in.)
When Micky needs to escape the grimy inner city, he jumps on board his boat Nina, raising the mainsail, sailing from the relative calm of Pittwater out to the open sea at North Head. Rich in detail, Flank Street is so skillfully written, that it hooked this reader, despite lacking a subplot that might have allowed the writer to vary the pace. We never do find out what was Micky’s back story as the writer withholds this information from us, but that just adds, rather than detracts from the mystery.
Micky’s casual sexism may annoy, but it isn’t out of place in this story or genre, particularly given the setting and the era. And Micky’s characterisation is sufficiently complex for this reader to overcome any negative aspects of the world he inhabits.
The two female characters, worldly-wise Carol and the sweet and vulnerable Meagan, come across as fully realised, three-dimensional characters. When Micky first meets Carol he makes assumptions about her based on the way she presents herself to the world. But as he gets to know her, he (and we) find out that she has depth and intelligence that are not immediately revealed. The dialogue is short, sharp and terse, with just the right amount of street talk to make Flank Street a compelling read for fans of hard-boiled crime fiction. Five stars.