Review - GANGLAND NORTH SOUTH & WEST, James Morton & Susanna Lobez

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

The fourth and final book in the GANGLAND franchise, GANGLAND NORTH SOUTH & WEST concentrates on the geographic areas of South and West Australia and the Northern Territory. Using the same style and format of earlier books this is a series of snippets of crimes loosely grouped into subject's on a timeline. The reader is, for example, introduced to some very early commuters who moved from Eastern Australia to the West, and back again. Criminals with connections to Squizzy Taylor, events between the First and Second World War, early Bikers (many of whom were actually pushbikers!).

One of the really fascinating aspects of all of this is just how incredibly mobile people were in the time before private cars and massive freeways. The other less fascinating, somewhat sobering aspect, is the way that so many of these criminals were unrepentant career crooks. Unable, or unwilling to break out of the lifestyle that meant that they were constantly on the move because they had to be.

Because of the style of this series, this isn't true crime that does any analysis or indepth look at any particular person, case or event. The connections are fascinating when you see them in this format, although the lack of depth is sometimes a little frustrating as the questions "why", "how" and "what the" occur frequently. Although as a semi-frequent reader of local true crime, quite a few of the names and their back-stories were vaguely familiar, there are many more that intrigued. Luckily, there is a bibliography at the end of the book and it will probably mean the length of to be read lists will shoot through the ceiling.

Interesting true crime, this might work best as dip in and out reading. The entire GANGLAND series is worth a look at if only to remind yourself that crime, and criminals, have been a part of the fabric of society for a very long time (which isn't all that surprising when you think about how the white society here was founded....).

Year of Publication

The last volume in the best selling series, Gangland North, South & West looks at home-grown crime in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. In addition to contract killing, prostitution, robbery, illegal gambling and the stand-over game, in these regions there has been a healthy living to be made from gold, diamond and pearl thefts.

Eastern criminals travel west, south and north to meet and do business, or battle with home-grown stalwarts such as Shiner Ryan, said to be able to open a lock with his hand behind his back; Spadger Bray, suspected of three murders and himself shot dead a decade later; blackmailing brothel madam Shirley Finn, executed on a Perth golf course, and many, many others.

Gangland North, South & West is everything that makes life worth living in the underworld.

Review Review - GANGLAND NORTH SOUTH & WEST, James Morton & Susanna Lobez
Karen Chisholm
Friday, September 6, 2013
Blog CR - Gangland North South & West, James Morton & Susanna Lobez
Karen Chisholm
Friday, August 30, 2013

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