THE BRUSH OFF - Shane Maloney

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The Brush Off
Murray Whelan
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Book Synopsis

Now pushing fifty, Murray Whelan is spinning his wheels in parliament - a toothless cog in Labor's stalled political machine.

But when the remains of a long-lost union official are found in dried-up Lake Nillahcootie, Murray soon gets sucked into some murky waters.  For a start, it seems that his old mate Charlie Talbot was implicated.  But Charlie has just dropped dead of a coronary occlusion in the dining room of the Mildura Grand Hotel, leaving behind a lot of unanswered questions.  The press are sniffing around and Labor's enemies are lining up for a free kick.  Then there's the blackmail attempt.

And as if that wasn't enough, there's an ALP preselection going pear-shaped.

Book Review

The things a ministerial assistant must do. Murray Whelan's exact job title and the details of his expected duties have never been fully explained but they certainly call for a deft kind of versatility in adapting to all possible situations a Labor party man might find himself inserted into. In yet another show of party shuffling, Murray's boss Angelo Agnelli has picked up the Arts portfolio, and Agnelli's need to endear himself to a new brand of people has now become Murray's personal headache. With suitable gothic dramatism, a failed artist has chosen the first day of Agnelli's new reign to off himself in the moat of an arts building, leaving behind a likewise dramatically worded suicide note which of course blames someone else for the necessity of the deed.
Being rather sceptical that anyone could be willing to die for their art these days, and with the thought that making a public comment about the lack of Government funding is rather pointless once you're dead (as in not being there to reap any possible changes or benefits as a result of your stunt), Murray rolls out the rolodex and gives himself a crash course on the fine art of receiving an arts grant. There's a lot of re-appearing names in all of this, and somehow it all comes to Murray being trapped in a closet, listening to someone else's bump'n'grind. Throw in a feared face from Murray's childhood, more than one smarmy arts patron, the usual various little toadies and conniving blood-suckers out to silence any who dares to question their mechanations and there you have it, just another day in the life of the unappreciated, the world of the Labor party underclass.

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