Book review: Dark Deeds Down Under edited by Craig Sisterson

Wednesday, August 10, 2022 Permalink

I bought and read UK-dwelling New Zealander Craig Sisterson’s Southern Cross Crime a few years ago. It’s not a book I’d typically choose given it’s non-fiction… (I do not ‘do’ non-fiction), however, I was actually studying my Masters of Arts at the time and writing an assignment on Australian crime fiction. I can’t now recall the gist of my assignment but Sisterson’s book provided a wealth of background on the history of antipodean crime fiction.

Book review: Dark Deeds Down Under edited by Craig SistersonDark Deeds Down Under: A Crime & Thriller Anthology
by Craig Sisterson
Published by Clan Destine Press
on 26/06/2022
Source: Clan Destine Press
Genres: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 0645316784
Pages: 340

This stunning anthology includes 19 short stories from some of the brightest storytelling talents from Australia and New Zealand: including international bestsellers and award winners.

Through the prism of page-turning crime, mystery and thriller stories you will roam from the dusty Outback to South Island glaciers, from ocean-carved coastlines and craggy mountains to sultry rainforests and Middle Earth valleys, and via sleepy villages to the underbellies of our cosmopolitan cities.

In these all-new stories you’ll spend time with favourite series cops, sleuths and accidental heroes, and meet some new and edgy standalone characters.

I follow Sisterson on social media given our similar predilection for crime fiction. Of course he ACTUALLY knows what he’s talking about rather than being just a fan and is recognised as an expert on all things Australian & NZ crime fiction.

Although crime fiction is certainly my passion (with a cross over into closely aligned genre of thrillers and suspense) I am still discovering Australian authors and quite ignorant when it comes to those across the ditch, so Sisterson’s latest anthology, Dark Deeds Down Under helped me grow that list.

I should preface this review by my mentioning that…. in addition to: non-fiction; historical fiction; fantasy; science fiction; and romance I also steer clear of short stories. I suspect it’s out of habit more than anything. Or perhaps a bad experience or two and I usually find there’s insufficient time to engage with characters and the plot.

However I leapt at the chance to get a review copy of Dark Deeds Down Under as it featured a number of authors I adore, including: Aioffe Clifford, Sulari Gentill, Dinuka McKenzie, Katherine Kovacic and RWR McDonald. As well as others with whom I am familiar such as Kerry Greenwood and Garry Disher.

Some of my faves offered snippets of characters I’d come to grow and love, such as Alex Clayton (art dealer and amateur sleuth), the Nancys (Tippy Chan, her uncle Pike and his partner Devon) as well as McKenzie’s recent creation, police officer Kate Grayling,

I loved the humour in some of these stories (the droll gumshoe wit via PI/fixit man Callan Valient in Clifford’s Summer of the Seventeen Poll and the self-effacing and quirky narration by theatre critic (and writer) Tee in Narrelle M Harris’s Observation on a Tragedy.*

There were a couple of inclusions that felt a little abbreviated – more appetisers rather than entrees if you like – but then there were others that came as a surprise and I’m singling out Hiding Something by Kiwi author Fiona Sussman. I’d not heard of Sussman before and very much enjoyed my foray into their twisty world as this tale that came together with some poignance…  and a bang.

I read most of this while visiting my mother and was reminded of the benefit of anthologies or short stories, in that it’s easier to put aside when interrupted or when you have other commitments. There’s no angst or yearning about… ‘Just one more chapter.’

A huge thanks to Craig Sisterson and Lindy Cameron for this collection. I love that it showcases familiar and new-to-me authors and that it reflects our often-dry or self-deprecating sense of humour as well as our vast and varied landscapes.

Dark Deeds Down Under edited by Craig Sisterson was published by Clan Destine Press and is now available. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 

* I should point out that this unfolds in three parts (acts) spread throughout the book. When I was finished the short first act I was confused as the story was only starting. It was only when I rechecked the table of contents I saw there were two acts to come. (And I read them ‘then’ rather than wait until I stumbled across them later in that sitting or in following days.)

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