Review: Hard Labour Edited by Cameron Ashley, Andrew Nette and Liam Jose


Title: Hard Labour

Author: Edited by Cameron Ashley, Andrew Nette and Liam Jose

Published: The Crime Factory October 2012

Synopsis: Hard Labour continues CFP’s commitment to mix the best of the new with the established pros of the crime genre.  From the Land Down Under comes seventeen dark criminal tales, including Garry Disher’s first ever Wyatt story, unpublished for over a decade, and new fiction by Peter Corris, Leigh Redhead, David Whish-Wilson, Adrian McKinty, Angela Savage, Helen Fitzgerald and more – including Greig Johnstone, JJ DeCeglie, Deborah Sheldon, Andrew Prentice, Finbarr McCarthy, Andrez Bergen, Amanda Wrangles, Cameron Ashley, Andrew Nette and Liam José.

Status: Read from October 25 to 26, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy the Crime Factory}

My Thoughts:

After enjoying a short run in the early years of this century, Crime Factory was resurrected in 2010 as an online PDF format zine, publishing around three times of year, combining noir short fiction with interviews and features. In 2011, Crime Fiction launched its first anthology, Crime Factory: The First Shift with 28 tales by a mix of international and local talent. Hard Labour is their second publication, an all-Australian anthology of noir, hardboiled and pulp crime fiction from a diverse group of storytellers, with a foreword by Lindy Cameron.

Beginning with ‘Wyatt’s Art’ a never before published short story by Garry Disher featuring career criminal Wyatt from his popular series, this collection includes stories from some of Australia’s most well known crime authors and showcases new and emerging talent.
Familiar to me is Leigh Redhead whose contribution is a departure from her PI series featuring Simone Kirsch. In ‘Grass Heads’, temptation leads to broken bones and broken hearts. Angela Savage sacrifices a trio of peacocks to hide the evidence of domestic violence in a rural town that has a reputation for being incurious. As a fan of his series, I enjoyed Peter Corris’s ‘Prodigal Son’ which has Cliff Hardy on a new case chasing a hit and run driver.
What truly stands out in this anthology is how well grounded it is in the Australian physical and cultural landscape. In ‘Farm Hands’, Deborah Sheldon writes of brutal murder in the wheat fields while ‘This Town Is My Town’ by Cameron Ashley takes us to the mean streets of the city. The writing has the rhythm of Australian speech, liberally sprinkled with crudities and slang but each storyteller has their own distinct voice.

My favourite stories included ‘No Through Road’ by Grieg Johnstone and the inept chancer for whom an armed robbery goes pear shaped, as well as ‘A Forgiving Kind of Nature’ by Amanda Wrangles which is a twist on the idea of the demon seed, however I enjoyed the entirety of this anthology. Dark, gritty and disturbing, Hard Labour is an excellent collection of noir fiction and an ideal introduction to Australia’s talented crime authors.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Review: Ghost Money by Andrew Nette | book'd out

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