Review - Mayhem, Matthew Thompson

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Book Title: 
Mayhem
ISBN: 
9781743535950
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Book Synopsis

Meet BADNE$$. He's the enigmatic, impulsive, exasperating, destructive, big-hearted Aussie outlaw who stole millions of dollars in daring bank robberies and became a folk hero as big as Ned Kelly when he masterminded two spectacular prison breaks in the space of six weeks.

Now Christopher 'BADNE$$' Binse is serving a crushing 18 years in solitary. He craves death more than infamy. The only way he can find redemption is to open his tortured soul to acclaimed journalist Matthew Thompson, in the hope another wild child out there will learn from the strange and savage saga of his life and think twice.

Mayhem is the bizarre, scary, brilliantly unique and jaw-dropping inside story of how a naughty little boy became Australia's most notorious prisoner.

Book Review

There's absolutely no doubt that author Matthew Thompson intended MAYHEM to be a fast paced, gonzo styled expose of Australian outlaw Christopher Binse. If you like that style, then the problems telling where the myth of Binse's own making ends, and the recounting starts might not be so concerning. For this reader there seemed to be some self-awareness issues, with Binse and the author, coming across as number 1 subscribers to the myth they were attempting to build.

I will admit that I was over the idea of Binse's hard man reputation when the blame for everything bad that ever happened to him came down to the women in his life. It wasn't helped by the feeling that somehow this was a "naughty little boy" and that everything would have been just okay if somebody else had stopped him. Nor was it clear that there was any awareness that his father came across as a complete waste of space, and whilst some early intervention in the justice system might have derailed the worst of the behaviour, trying to make out that Binse is an exasperating, big-hearted "Aussie outlaw" was frankly frustrating and annoying.

Either way, the style of the book was slightly too "reverential" for this reader's liking. It seemed too focused on the myth, and not enough on the reality of who Binse is and what he did. Whilst they might have had a go at redemption, at no stage did Binse ever really seem like the "tortured soul" of the blurb. Rather the whole thing felt like a transparent reputation construction, and an attempt to turn a thug into some sort of "misunderstood hero". There's nothing much in this story that seems in any way educational for any wild children of the future, and a lot that serves as a tutorial in how to blame everybody else if they do get into trouble. 

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