Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Anybody with a passing interest in notorious Australian "identities" in the not so distant past isn't going to take too long to twig on whom Mendoza is based, and that same reader probably is going to be excused for any guesses about the writer who narrates this fictional book.

Basically the story is that a journalist working for The Australian Jewish Times makes a complete hash of a story and ends up being fired by the editor.  Circumstances intervene, things happen, he finds himself interviewing / writing the life story of Sydney gangster Jacob Mendoza.  Mendoza is what he is, although he does try to wrap it up in a lot of long-winded justification.  Klein, the writer, isn't what he says he is.  He wraps that up in a bit of a story as well. 

Most of Mendoza's story is told in a series of long interviews or monologues, whilst most of Klein's story is narrated by him - aiming obviously for an unreliable narrator scenario  Undoubtedly the author has a fine eye and understanding of the characters that inhabit Kings Cross, but that fine eye seems somehow to fall sort when it comes to his two central characters.  Mendoza's story is, I suppose, supposed to be hilariously funny - and there were some lines that absolutely raised a smile.  It was also seemingly supposed to be confrontational - crude, rude and more than a bit risqué.  Which has, after all, been done before and whilst I'm a big fan of writers doing this in our own voice, it has to be a more complete package.  

Unfortunately I found KING OF THE CROSS a little too tedious, a little too forced and the few good touches didn't quite compensate.

Year of Publication

King of the Cross is a dazzling novel that explores the criminal world of Jacob Mendoza: legendary Godfather of Kings Cross and for more than four decades, Australia's most powerful and notorious crime figure.  Now in his eighties, Mendoza believes it's time to record his epic life story - although finding a competent writer is never easy.  As Mendoza unfolds his seductive story of thugs and drugs, murders and mysteries, bikers, bent cops and girls, girls, girls, it emerges that he's not the only one with a past.  And the memoir takes shape, other more terrifying criminals are circling the kingdom that Mendoza built.

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