Review - Something for Nothing, Andy Muir
As Australian as a dingy, and dead set likely to get himself into bother, Lachie Munro is a good bloke. Sure he's an abalone poacher, but only to pay off a lapse of concentration gambling debt. And sure he and his best mate Dave don't report the giant heroin haul they find when they are out poaching off the coast of Newcastle. Of course they seem to have just enough street smarts to finagle a possible connection for flogging the heroin off as an unexpected windfall. Dave's got kids he wants to set up after all, and Lachie? Lachie wants out of this current version of his life, which you can absolutely get on board with. Life seems a bit humdrum with a job as a house painter, living in a granny flat in an old blokes backyard and being unlucky in love. Not helped at all by pining for a woman who is more likely to nab him for abalone poaching than fall at his feet.
Alongside the wonderful characters Muir has populated this book with, there's a spot of complex, slightly maniacal plotting going on. There's connections within connections; bikers and Asian gangs; a Chinese restaurant which does excellent Spring Rolls and has an upstairs "club"; and best mate Dave. Dave's everything you'd want in a best mate, and somebody you'd not let near the best silver under any circumstances. He's a wonderful foil for Lachie's slightly laid back attitude as these two experience the full range of ups and downs that go with the understandably tense undertaking of unloading a huge stack of illegal drugs. Ultimately resolution comes from the sticking to your guns, holding onto your horses, or not letting the bastards get you down school of problem solving. As you'd expect with a problem that came from much the same sort of thinking in the first place.
Set in the Newcastle area, sense of place (for a bush based reader) doesn't feel like a massively strong aspect of SOMETHING FOR NOTHING. It's the beachside, it's Australia. There's surfing, there's fishing and there's a city / bush interface. It maybe that readers with more knowledge of Newcastle find more points of familiarity but then that's really not the point of this book at all.
SOMETHING FOR NOTHING is a perfect example of the lighter, tongue in cheek style of true-blue Aussie Crime Fiction that is increasingly being done particularly well. It's perfect reading for any fans of the genre, as well as anybody who would like a good laugh and likes a bit of true blue vernacular and behaviour. Sure there's some nasty types lurking around, there's dead bodies, broken relationships, broken household goods, and a dog that's worryingly ill for a little while (it recovers), but Lachie's the sort of good bloke that you kind of hope will get away with something that really you know he shouldn't.
It’s not every day a bloke stumbles across a dismembered torso on Nobby’s beach.
Lachie Munro is starting to feel like he’s a magnet for trouble. Only the day before he fished a giant haul of heroin out of his favourite abalone poaching spot near Newcastle.
There’s a better than even chance that the heroin and the torso are connected and he should leave well enough alone. But the opportunity to get ahead of the game is too good to pass up.
But how do you sell several kilos of heroin? It’s not like drug dealers are listed in the Yellow Pages. And what happens when the owners come looking for their missing package? Is the torso a warning to anyone thinking of crossing them?
Now a person of interest to the police, Lachie needs to stay one step ahead of them and a local bikie he’s managed to insult, pay off a big time dealer from Sydney, placate the neighbour’s labrador, Horace, and win the heart of the gorgeous new Fisheries Officer he’s fallen for.
If Lachie can pull it all off, he might just get something for nothing . . .