There are some books around that may not be good for your health. Since finishing WASHED UP I've had this nagging feeling that all problems should be resolved with a glass of Lagavulin malt in one hand and a shot of espresso in the other.
WASHED UP is the second book from UK / Australian author Tony Berry featuring reluctant sleuth, travel-agent and welded on Richmond resident Bromo Perkins. In this outing Bromo finds himself poking around in the trail left by a verdict of least resistance - that the drowning death of a bright young student in the Yarra River was suicide.
WASHED UP is set mostly in trendy, real-estate obsessed inner-Melbourne Richmond, and it seems extremely appropriate therefore that the story involves devious real estate agents, developers and town planners, as well as lurking underworld figures and prostitution rings. Not only do the action and players fit within the location, the way that Bromo works the neighbourhood is extremely realistic. I remember the first book in the series combined a lot of action with some travelogue aspects of the location that, whilst fascinating, had a tendency to bog things down a bit. That observation doesn't apply to WASHED UP. The location is blended into the action very well, there's a real feel for the suburb, the cafe's, the street furniture (and the pest that it can be), the narrow laneways and streets. Even when Bromo goes bush there's a good feeling of where he is, without bogging down why he's there. And an observation that sums up the climate change divide in a nutshell (I swear if one more southerner tells me the drought is over .....)
"You townies have no idea what life's like out in the bush, even almost on the city fringe where we are. Bloody climate change doesn't mean watering our lawns on alternate days or hand-washing our cars. It means droughts and floods one after the other and nothing in between. If our cattle aren't being swept away by the rivers then our sheep are falling over for lack of feed and water."
The plot of WASHED UP is nicely complicated, without being overdone, and the characterisations are good and solid. Bromo Perkins is exactly what you'd expect from a bit of a lone-wolf type, and the idea that he's one of those accidental investigator's doesn't tinkle a bell, let alone clang. It's perfectly understandable that he's the sort of bloke that would do a favour for a mate - male or female. That he'd get the job done and still maybe not get the girl (any of them really), is a given. The thought that he's out there stalking the narrow laneways, glaring at the street furniture and chucking the odd wry comment at a daft t-shirt slogan is quite believable.
WASHED UP is available from a number of Australian online book sellers, or as an ebook from Amazon.