Review: The Robbers by Paul Anderson

Title: The Robbers

Author: Paul Anderson

Published: Hardie Grant Australia September 2012

Synopsis: The Victoria Police Armed Robbery Squad has long been considered the hardest and most feared group of Victorian detectives. They operate without fear or favour.  Newspaper journalist Ian Malone, new to the city crime beat, has assigned himself a story: uncover the truth about the enigmatic squad. Have the men from “The Robbers” been demonised or is their hard-arm reputation deserved? It is a time of disruption and change. Force command and a new police ethics commission want the Armed Robbery Squad disbanded. Apart from political enemies, the squad has a new nemesis on the street: a vicious bandit prepared to shoot robbery victims – and detectives. The Armed Robbery Squad men, for so long the hunters, have become the hunted.  As Malone builds a unique and unexpected bond with the squad he is enticed into a sometimes dark, seedy and seductive world where right can be wrong and wrong can often be right: a grey world of honour versus politics. “Heat” meets “Animal Kingdom” in this gritty and dirty crime saga. The Robbers takes the reader into a world where cops and bandits fight a silent war; a world where the most dangerous enemies might just be the bureaucrats and the political powerbrokers. Honour versus politics in a grey world where nothing is as black and white as the media makes it appear. Read an extract

Status: Read from October 16 to 17, 2012 {Courtesy Hardie Grant}

My Thoughts:

Drawing on his relationship with the Victorian Armed Robbery Squad as an award winning police reporter, Paul Anderson’s gritty ‘The Robbers’ is a fictionalised account of modern day policing from the inside amongst the officers who confront some of society’s most dangerous and desperate criminals.
When journalist Ian Malone is assigned as the police reporter for The Age, his first planned feature is on the fearsome reputation of the Victorian Armed Robbery Squad. Repeatedly under fire in the media for allegations of excessive force and intimidation, the units modus operandi is in direct conflict with the growing culture of corporate policing. But protecting society from the excesses of violent, remorseless criminals demands a unique commitment and The Robbers explores the myriad of grey area in maintaining law and order.

And there is plenty of grey. Few among us can comfortably condone the use of physical violence against a police suspect but can the ends ever justify the means? Fast paced and action packed, the author highlights the conflicts and complexity of modern policing with unflinching honesty.  While police bureaucracy busy themselves with image making and political point scoring, police on the coalface, such as the members of the Armed Robbery Squad, are mired in the realities of violent crime and the brutality of those that commit them. Anderson expertly delves into the paradox, dissecting the idyll from the truth. This is a world where moral certainty wars with callous indifference, and the rules of polite society are dismissed with violent prejudice.

It is often said there is a thin line between fact and fiction and Anderson hasn’t had to look far to find inspiration for the criminals that taunt the Armed Robbery Squad in his novel. In April 2012 the Herald Sun published a list of Victoria’s worst criminals as named by the author which included Victor George Peirce, Bandali Michael Debs and Dennis “Mr Death” Allen, all of whom have had their violent actions attributed to Anderson’s fictionalised characters.

And what of the members of the squad? These are men who play hard and work hard and I have no doubt are based on real officers Anderson has come in contact with. While it’s easy to judge them for their worst behaviours it’s difficult to not admire their commitment and dedication to the protection of society at the risk of their own lives. These men ‘hold the line’ not for recognition or reward but for “the immeasurable pleasure from removing the worst of the worst from society”.

There is a stunning authenticity to Anderson’s writing, not only in terms of plot and characters but also in the style and tone of the text. The uncensored dialogue (a note for those easily offended, swearing is rife) is realistic and the novel is well grounded in both time and place.

Definitely one of my favourite crime reads for the year I’d recommend it particularly to readers who enjoyed Y A Erskine’s :The Brotherhood as it has a similar tone. Compelling, confrontational and thought provoking The Robbers is a gripping and entertaining crime drama.

Available to Purchase

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via Booko

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Australian Bookshelf
    Oct 22, 2012 @ 18:33:46

    Just finished reading this one and I loved it! I absolutely agree with you about Anderson’s writing style, everything about it just sets the scene and makes everything seem so realistic.



  2. Bronwyn
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 11:51:55

    Hi Shelley,

    I work at the Police Association in Victoria, we are very keen on publishing this review in our December Journal. Paul, the author, is very well known to our members, so we’ll also be publishing a small Q&A with him as part of your review. Can you email me and let me know if you’re happy with us publishing your review?




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