Barrett was born in Bondi, Australia, the son of George and Marguerite Barrett. He left school at 14 to do a few odd jobs before taking on a trade as a butcher around the eastern suburbs of Sydney. He gave up his trade when a hind of beef fell on him and injured his shoulder. While he was on worker's compensation, he completed three writing courses at the WEA (Workers' Educational Association). When his sickness benefits ran out he worked in various jobs, DJ, barman, or went on the dole. His first writing job was gag writing for disc jockeys on Radio 2SM. He also signed on with a casting agent and started acting in commercials and television series and appeared in what he says are 'two classic A-grade clunkers'; the movies Bullamakanka and The Empty Beach.
Les Norton's apartment block in Randwick was proving to be nothing but trouble, full of mayhem and murder. It seemed the longer he owned it the more money he lost. But while he's trying to solve his financial problems, Les still has time to fight hate-crazed roadies, sort out a drug deal after fighting a gang of bikies, help a feminist Balmain writer with some research she won't forget in a hurry, and get involved with Franulka, a super-sexy leadsinger of an all-girl rock band, The Heathen Harlots. And with the help of two ex-Romanian Securitate explosive experts, he might even be able to sort out his investment. But can Les pull off the perfect crime?