Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Manic Streets of Perth is an anthology made up of 3 distinct novellas - Manic Streets of Perth, Looking for Sarah Jane Smith and To Dare A Future.

Each novella is a separate story in its own right, so I've commented on all 3 individually.

Manic Streets of Perth features intrepid, and idiot reporter Paul Lewis, but more importantly, Kim Jones, animal activist, some-time petrol station attendant, daughter, fighter and survivor. When a snake wielding bandit robs her father's petrol station, when Kim is working the till, her life starts to spiral just a little bit more out of control than it already was. It's not helped by reporter Paul Lewis who, even when he thinks he is helping, just digs a bigger and deeper hole for both of them. Fortunately Kim is equipped with her own personal rock climbing gear (figuratively not literally) and she triumphs, leaving Paul wallowing around in his own self-pity in Perth.

I loved Manic Streets - there was a great story underlying a slightly madcap series of events and characters that really pulled the reader through the novella. There are some great characters in this story - the self-pitying, slightly idiotic journalist Paul, Kim's father (sans both legs), the support group for people with very unfortunate names, and Kim herself. Kim's just fabulous - real - strong - vivid.

Looking for Sarah Jane Smith (From the book blurb): Marty's living in a Welsh town that he hates, doing a job he's lost interest in and so bored he can't be bothered with sex. But a new life beckons in Australia.

This is probably my least favourite of the 3 novellas, simply because it has a tendency to ramble a lot without a lot necessarily happening. That or a lot of machinations to meet the girl of his dreams (Sarah Jane Smith from Doctor Who like) is probably carrying's on that I don't quite get :> Despite that, Looking for Sarah Jane Smith again shows a great depth of characterisation and these blokes really stand out.

To Dare a Future (From the book blurb): A van driver with abduction and murder on his mind. An eleven year old girl snatched on her way home from ballet. A tortured reporter, happy to use her death and the terrifying reign of a child killer to help make his name.

I'm not too sure I agree with the idea that this reporter - Eddie is all that happy using this girls death. This is one bloke that doesn't seem to like himself all that much. This novella is not really about any investigation into the girls death - that's almost a sidebar, but it is a ramble through Eddie's mind, his life and his thoughts. Why he is what he is, why he does what he does. There's some fascinating insights into the male, repressed, unhappy mind in this novella and whilst it again, is much slower and more rambling than the first novella, it was interesting.

Manic Streets of Perth is probably not strictly Crime Fiction, although there is a strong element of that in it. Each novella is really only barely connected to the other because of the sorts of people that are characterised - there's no cutesy theme (thank goodness) that connects them. What it seems to be, more than anything else, is a bit of an insight into blokes of a certain type, behaving like blokes do.

The author calls this his ramblings. If he rambles on like this, then buy him a beer or three and read his book.

Year of Publication

Dave Franklin's anthology follows the darkly comic fortunes of three journalists. Perth.

It's thousands of kilometres from anywhere, it's got a really rubbish bell tower and not enough of the placid locals are being eaten by sharks. Well, that's what grumpy ex-pat reporter Paul Lewis thinks. But after a lonely manic street preachers fan reveals her disastrously unlucky life suddenly nothing's the same -  manic streets of perth -  where a snake-wielding robber is just the start of your troubles. Also contains the Doctor Who-themed comedy, Looking For Sarah Jane Smith, and the child killer drama, To Dare A Future.

Review MANIC STREETS OF PERTH - Dave Franklin
Karen Chisholm
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

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