Reviews

 

Reviews for THE COVES

'The Coves by David Whish-Wilson is a stunning historical fiction novel about survival and greed, and the inherent human pursuit of wealth. Above all else, though, this is a story about a young man’s journey from boyhood to manhood, and the challenges we face in our adolescence that shape who we become later on in life. This novel is rich in historical detail, with Whish-Wilson providing a wealth of information and backstory to support the narrative. For readers who love their historical fiction The Coves is a true gem, providing a vivid and visceral glimpse into a time-period characterised by extreme change and cultural tension. Although historically dense, it’s incredibly easy to follow and understand. Narrated from the perspective of Samuel, the story reads with a child-like innocence that gradually sheds as Samuel learns to hold his own and find his inner strength. It’s a delight to read a book where the character voice shifts and there is a certain satisfaction in seeing this change in perspective as he gradually matures. David Whish-Wilson effortlessly combines factual history with a cracking good story to create a layered and emotionally-fuelled read. He has a particular talent for authentic dialogue that captures the essence and attitudes of the era in fascinating detail. The Coves turns a little-known chapter of Australian history into a thrilling getaway and if you enjoy the adventure of travelling to other times and places without ever having to leave the comfort of your own couch, then we couldn’t recommend it more highly.' Better Reading, July 23, https://www.betterreading.com.au/news/gold-feverreview-of-the-coves-by-david-whish-wilson/

'Fans of David Whish-Wilson’s trilogy of crime novels featuring Frank Swann will recognise his superb storytelling style and elegant prose in this gripping new work of historical fiction that binds the Swan River colony to gold rush era California. San Francisco in 1850 is a frontier town – lawless, corrupt, full of competing gangs, ramshackle buildings, and gold fever. Throughout the narrative, connections are established between life in the New World and Sam’s earlier life at the Swan River. This lively, engaging novel, which is based on historical events and characters, will appeal to a wide range of readers and offers many talking points for book clubs.' WritingWA

‘A clever tale of criminal plots, family bonds, and the birth of a new world. Holds like a vice and never lets go. Every turn of the page builds the pressure.’ Rohan Wilson

‘The Coves is what happens when Australian criminals take over Deadwood.’ Paul Daley

‘A lyrical coming-of-age tale and an historical crime novel, lit by something fresh, honest and generous.’ Joan London

'David has structured The Coves with the suspense of a crime novel, but also tapped into the rough, antiquated style of colonial English. This unique style, paired with suspense, action, and Sam’s daring narration that introduces the forgotten and brutal world of Sydney Town, makes The Coves fascinating, fun and fast reading. And just as dark parts of human nature flourish – the greed, bloodthirst and violence – so too do the redemptive parts.'  Good Reading Magazine, July 2018

'The Coves entertainingly delivers a nugget of Australian history possibly little known heretofore. Whish-Wilson’s suspenseful and often violent novel is based on real events and historical figures from a time and a place that is remembered for its reputed “licentiousness, depravity and criminality” if no longer for its Australian roots.' Katherine England, The Advertiser

'... a fascinating novel. Whish-Wilson succeeds in providing an engaging access point into this aspect of Australian/US history, while also presenting an interesting way of understanding coming-of-age.'  Westerly Magazine

'David Whish-Wilson is perhaps the most underrated writer in Australia. His elegant prose, humanism and tireless research make every release of his an event for those in the know. His latest, THE COVES, is a work of historical fiction following Australians who have moved to California in the 1840s to strike it rich during the San Francisco gold rush. THE COVES is by turns a coming of age story, a violent thriller, and a snapshot of a rarely discussed time in history, while never being anything short of engrossing and astounding.' Neighbourhood Books 'Book of the Month.'

'If you read David Whish-Wilson’s trilogy starting with Line of Sight – loosely based on the Shirley Finn murder  - and featuring Frank Swann, you’re probably as addicted to his writing as I am. The Coves is a great tale, with a fabulous setting, and I think the take of one reviewer, Paul Daley, sums it up perfectly: “The Coves is what happens when Australian criminals take over Deadwood".' Boffins Books

 

Reviews for Old Scores

  • "Crime noir has always had that quality of nostalgia for a lost world that was troubled yet human and where individuals had greater agency within systems. Certainly contemporary corruption, with its commercial in confidence provisions and cost inflations on government contracts, lacks the same readability as stories about bikies, wallopers and girls in bikinis on boats.These all feature in Old Scores, and Whish-Wilson has again delivered a fast-paced, entertaining and smarter than average crime novel." The Weekend Australian, March 18 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/australian-fiction-nexus-bet...
  • "This is the third Frank Swann book in the series and the character develops with each instalment. One aspect of Swann's life makes him almost unique among crime fiction detectives: he's a happily married man. The most impressive thing about this highly readable novel is Whish-Wilson's insight into the way crime permeates the social structure. Our society of lawmakers, law-breakers, law-abiders and law-enforcers is not so much a layer cake as a marble cake, with each category swirled through all the others."Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/old-scores-review-david-whishwilson-brings-back-pi-frank-swann-as-a-fixer-20161223-gth6p7.html
  • "Set in Perth during the 1980’s Old Scores, the third novel in the Frank Swann detective series, is a book with a heartbeat. The text pulses from the pages at an escalating rate, building tension and suspense as the story hurtles towards its surprising resolution. Frank Swann’s Perth is a city steeped in corruption at every level, from bikie clubhouses to the houses of parliament, and a complex web of relationships involving politicians, police, businessmen and bankers must be artfully navigated if Swann is to save himself and protect others he cares about. Old Scores confirms Whish-Wilson as a master crime writer with an unrivalled gift for examining and depicting the culture of the 'wild west'."
    WritingWA Reviews - http://www.writingwa.org/booksreviewed/2016-reviews/
  • "Old Scores takes us to the early 1980s, and Perth is awash with money. In true hard-boiled fashion, the line between good and evil is blurred  and as Old Scores rushes towards its bloody conclusion Swann finds it increasingly difficult to distinguish between friend and foe. Whish-Wilson has penned another fine crime saga". The West Australian, 08/11/16 https://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-west-australian/20161108/28238...
  • "West Australian crime writer David Whish-Wilson returns with his third breakneck Frank Swann novel, set in a 1980s heavy with corruption. Ex-detective Frank Swann is working for himself now that he's not working for the fuzz, and is offered a job working for the Premier's security team. But in such a heady time, the search for answers is a dangerous path from bankers to bikers and politicians to police - and Swann may not survive to delight us a fourth time. Whish-wilson's sense of both place and pace make this an excellent and alarming journey into Australia's crooked not-past-enough past." Readings Monthly, Nov 2016.
  • “OLD SCORES is the third book in this excellent series, after LINE OF SIGHT released in 2010 and ZERO AT THE BONE in 2013… There's something elegant about the way that Whish-Wilson combines a fast moving, high tension plot with engaging characters…OLD SCORES is a great entry in what, overall, is a tremendous series that reminds us again how keen the eye and how sharp the observation of really good crime writers like David Whish-Wilson is.” AustCrimeFiction.org
  • "As is the case with the first two instalments, Old Score combines a fast moving, tension filled crime tale with acute social and political observations and stunning prose and characterisations. Old Scores not only confirms Whish-Wilson’s as the master chronicler of Western Australia’s noir underbelly, but one of the best crime writers working in Australia today." Andrew Nette, Crime Factory & Pulpcurry - http://www.pulpcurry.com/2016/11/book-review-old-scores/

  • "No one writes West Australian crime fiction like David Whish-Wilson. Old Scores once again transports the reader back in time, this time to the 1980's at the beginning of the urban boom."Old Score envelopes the reader into not only a time and place, but puts them firmly in the mind off the characters. Old Scores is a must read for fans of Australian crime fiction and/or crime fiction in general." Justaguythatlikestoread/Fairdinkum Crime - http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspot.com.au/
  • "Featuring a strong cast of murderous bikies and corrupt detectives, greedy landlords and one of Australia’s most wanted men, Old Scores is another full-throttle romp through the mean streets of Perth from the author of Line of Sight and Zero at the Bone. In the Frank Swann series, David Whish-Wilson has done for Perth what Peter Temple did for Melbourne with Jack Irish. It might be a tough city but it’s our tough city..." Westerly, https://westerlymag.com.au/review-david-whish-wilsons-old-scores/

Reviews for Perth

  • "David Whish-Wilson has written a deeply personal history, combining psychogeography, historical information, and literary citations and imaginings. His range is huge and his writing vivacious and fascinating…the watery details often come with deep sensual descriptions and a fearless and endearing employment of autobiographical tales…Whish-Wilson has a shrewd eye for the quirky and the bizarre, but what recommends Perth above all is the great generosity, inclusiveness and idiosyncrasy of its vision." Gail Jones, The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age
  • "What David Whish-Wilson has written is a book on Perth that attains at times to the status of poetry. Indeed, so rich and lyrical is Perth, so acute in its insights and adept in its composition, that Chesterton's paradox would appear well-founded. Perth is a deeply personal take on the physical and cultural landscape of Perth and the "emotional landscape" that runs through and around it...it is clear that Whish-Wilson loves Perth deeply. Readers will thrill to his descriptions of its ecology and eclectic, and often controversial, architecture, as well as to the riverine quality of his prose and its gentle metaphorical undercurrents. Perth's landscape, writes Whish-Wilson, is conducive to dreamers. Certainly such charged reminiscences lend credence to that position. It is these reminiscences, largely speaking, that give Perth its emotional weight, though it is less nostalgia than an almost Burkean sense of the interrelation of past and future, and of the responsibility of the present to both, that struck this reader as the key element here. Naturally enough, this theme finds expression in the passages dealing with the author's three children, and at the end of the book Whish-Wilson expresses his hope that the city will "nourish" them. Sharing that hope for my own young kids, I will only add that it is less in vain for the appearance of this beautiful book, which anyone invested, or indeed investing, in the city's future should resolve to read." Richard King, The Weekend Australian, Dec 7 - http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/david-whishwilson-mines-perth-a-city-of-dreams/story-fn9n8gph-1226776018422 
  • "David Whish-Wilson's Perth is a rewarding read on many levels. Moving fluidly between eras and across decades, interweaving memoir with local history and quoting generously from other great WA writers and historians, it is a beautifully written reminder that "the truest, if most intangible heritage of our city exists in our memories." The cover's golden, ghostly image of the Perth skyline echoes this, suggesting a place of both substance and ephemera to be discovered within the text." The West Australian, Tues, Nov 26
  • "Poetic and lyrical, this book weaves actual events - some well documented, others barely known - drawn from a rich source of archival material with personal reminiscences, anecdotes and obscure facts. The Perth we discover is a city of contradictions and eccentricities. The author acknowledges the mining boom which has transformed and shaped so much of the city, but also delves beneath the surface into personal stories and an examination of the physical land." Sydney Morning Herald & The Age, Feb 08 2014

 

Reviews for Zero at the Bone

  • "Zero at the Bone is a tightly plotted, well-textured story of shady figures contesting a lease at the beginning of the mining boom. As such it adds to an emerging literature of Western Australia as a place where the characters are larger than life and the pathways to success not always legal. From Swann and his family to bikies and the rotten-egg sons of judges, Whish-Wilson's characterisation is strong. The story is something of a humdinger too, fast-paced, complex and with some excellent twists. And there's pleasure to be had in Whish-Wilson's attention to detail too; he's succeeded in evoking the spirit of the 70s here through its material history, Holden EKs, Valiants, Winfields and monkey boots, to name just some. Zero at the Bone is quality crime." The Weekend Australian, Feb 08, 2014
  • "Zero at the Bone is classic crime noir, with some satisfying turns holding narrative interest in a complex plot...The book teems with local colour, and this heavily researched and painstaking attention to detail skilfully captures the essence of Perth in the late 1970's...Whish-wilson has created another satisfying novel that also contributes to the wealth of impressive crime fiction currently being produced in the country." Australian Book Review
  • "Zero at the Bone is a follow up to David Whish-Wilson’s first novel Line of Sight and whilst it does reference Frank’s back story of the first book, it stands up well on its own. The larger-than-life characters as seen through the world-weary eyes of Frank provide a wonderful snapshot of a particular point in time, complete with daggy cars, long lunches and dodgy entrepreneurs. I’ll be going back for more." Good Reading Magazine
  • "Like Line of Sight (2010) to which it is the sequel, Zero at the Bone has an  intense and distinctive sense of place. It's set in Perth and Fremantle, locales recorded in such specific detail you could probably follow the  whole story on Google Maps...The  book shows a deep concern with the  integrity of those who administer law and order, and for the effects of violence which comes across in Whish-Wilson's novel    as a totally believable disregard for human (and animal) life and suffering when it gets in the  way of parochial power and, particularly, profit. The  novel's final twist sees some very satisfying come-uppancing." Katharine England, The Advertiser
  • "In this dark, convincing tale, Whish-Wilson manages to combine the pace of a hard-boiled thriller with a lyricism that makes you pause and catch your breath, before plunging back in for more. Your classic ‘Can’t stop reading/don’t want it to end’ kind of novel, Zero at the Bone is simply one of the best books I’ve read this year in any genre. Don’t miss it." Angela Savage, author of The Dying Beach and The Half-Child"
  • Following on from Whish-Wilson's gripping novel Line of Sight, former detective and anti-hero Frank Swann returns to investigate the suicide of an eminent geologist. The plot is unexpected and intriguing, the action intense, but best of all is Whish-Wilson's ability to draw characters so familiar they could be next-door neighbours. Beautifully written, Zero at the Bone captures the essence of 1970s Perth from its mining mavericks and shady dealers to its leafy suburbs. An absorbing read and thoroughly recommended if you love a great story. You won't want to put this one down until the very last page."  The West Australian
  • "Zero At the Bone is a riveting crime story and a vivid examination of the political economy of Western Australia. The period detail is terrific. Like an expert surgeon, the author cuts away to reveal an anatomical dissection of corruption and street level history, Perth’s geography, class relations,  its tribes and sub-cultures, including the most ruthless tribe of all, the cabal of bent cops who act with impunity. Whish-Wilson’s writing is terrific, both taut and lyrical." Andrew Nette, Crime Factory featured book
  • "ZERO AT THE BONE is a distinctly Australian yet all consuming crime fiction novel that grips the reader from page one and demands attention through to its violent conclusion...What most impressed me was the long game of revenge which played out in surprising and shocking fashion...David Whish-Wilson is a force to be reckoned with in crime fiction." JustAGuyThatLikesToRead blogspot
  • "Whish-Wilson does an excellent job of setting time and place...The characters are well developed – and in particular that of ex-Detective Frank Swann is well drawn, empathetic, and heroic...The plot is fantastic! The twists and turns, the corruption, the strategies being played out and the final sting in this tale were totally unforeseen and unexpected. A triumph!" readingwritingandriesling.wordpress.com 
  • "Zero At The Bone is the second novel by David Whish-Wilson featuring Frank Swann. I really developed an appreciation for Swann in the last book and I think this book only cemented my liking for him. He’s got a unique way of doing things and I love his ragtag little band of informants. I also like the genuine Australian feel to these books – the footy clubs, the pubs, the old cars... It makes it so easy for the reader to paint the picture in their head, see everything clearly. I’ve never been to the setting of these books but feels very much as though I have. I hope we see more of Frank in the future, doing what he does best." http://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/zero-at-the-bone-david-whish-wilson/
  • "Frank Swann, the central character of Zero at the Bone is an attractive lone wolf, with a strong Australian identity, and the time frame of the late 1970s is perfectly drawn. The personal is balanced nicely with the current investigation from the opening sequence, which is both shocking and moving. Zero at the Bone delivers on a whole series of levels. There’s puzzle solving, a bit of good old-fashioned detecting, a great sense of place and time and a solid dose of common sense at the heart of much of the investigation. There’s also a resolution that plays out in a rather surprising but somehow completely apt manner." The Newtown Review of Books
  • "Zero at the Bone has the tone of a hard-boiled detective novel with a distinctly Australian twist. It is a provocative story of corruption, greed and fraud in 1970′s Perth. There is plenty of action, violence is ever present in the city’s underground with the corruption amongst officials adding to it. The pace is fast, the narrative is sharp and the dialogue authentic. Entertaining, gritty and provocative, Zero at the Bone is an impressive crime fiction novel. I’m sure Frank Swann will be back, and I am looking forward to it." BookdOut Book Blog - http://bookdout.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/review-zero-at-the-bone-by-davi...

Reviews for Line of Sight

  • 'My first pick of new Australian talent to watch for is Line of Sight by David Whish-Wilson... Line of Sight, Whish-Wilson’s second book but his first crime novel, is for my money the best thing to come out of Australia in a very long time (and yes, that does include Peter Temple). The book is loosely based on the real life murder in the seventies of a notorious Perth brothel madam, Shirley Finn. It’s told from the point of view of Superintendent Frank Swan, a tough as nails old school cop turned whistle blower for the sham Royal Commission established to look into Finn’s murder. Well written and meticulously researched, it’s a wonderful piece of hard-boiled writing and an incisive analysis of the changing nature of corruption in Western Australia. There’s a sequel in the works. I can hardly wait.' http://www.crimefictionlover.com
  • 'Line of Sight is one of the best Australian crime novels I read in 2010. The writing is taut and infused with the sights, sounds and feel of seventies Perth. Whish-Wilson also does an excellent job of combining a fast-moving plot with an examination of how the emergence of new types of crime impacted on existing power structures in the state.' Andrew Nette, Crime Factory 6
  • 'This is hard-boiled and riveting writing, with a sense of place and urgency...A notable addition to Australia's crime-writing canon.' Andrew Prentice, Crime Factory 6
  • "In Line of Sight the pursuit of the truth is a grim one; no flashy encounters with the stereotypes of crime fiction, rather a dogged tracking of clues small and large, and often wrung from characters as finely drawn as anything in the genre. This is the hallmark of Whish-Wilson’s novel; it sounds like the truth. The plot is not a racetrack of events, full of red herrings that are resolved by a mixture of derring-do and genius. Rather it is a dark seam that is mined by Swann for the tiny glimmers of light, and, in so doing, he exposes even more of the darkness. The novel is beautifully crafted. The characterisation is flawless and economical, the plot has a creeping intensity that grows greater and greater as it progresses to the unexpected conclusion." The West Australian, Dec 7 2010
  • "The spot-on references to 70s Perth are among the delights of this elegantly written detective story. Highly recommended, especially to those who remember when bogans were bogs, Fremantle jail wasn't a museum and DNA evidence was science fiction." writingWA recommends... www.writingWA.org
  • "Superintendent Frank Swann's investigation into the murder of a leading brothel madam sets him on a dangerous and sordid trail. Tracking the main tale are two sub-plots, one with a particularly surprising conclusion. Well structured and written, this is first rate crime noir." Ross Southernwood, Sun Herald
  • “Line of Sight is a great achievement. In the crime genre, atmosphere counts heavily. In this novel, the cops talk like cops, the crims talk like crims and the atmosphere is electric. Line of Sight doesn’t relax its grip for a minute. Forget the genteel world you thought you inhabited. Here is what happens to you if you try to fight the system. Extraordinarily raw violence is reported without squeamishness or excess. Chilling, bleak and very satisfying; Whish-Wilson’s move to crime fiction is already making waves and, I imagine, causing some discomfort for those who care to remember.”  M/C Reviews, http://reviews.media-culture.org.au/
  • In the Western Australia of Whish-Wilson’s novel, nothing happens without a financial understanding... Line of Sight is a gripping, tense thriller, peopled by credible characters.” Angela Savage, author of the The Half Child, and Behind the Night Bazaar. angelasavage.wordpress.com
  •  “LINE OF SIGHT is terrific. The portrayal of Swann is beautifully done – he’s believable, decent, fallible, genuine... a man who stands up against overwhelming odds. He's supported by Victorian Justice Partridge, brought to WA to head a Royal Commission into corruption that is doomed to fail.  There's a palpable sense of the way in which 1970's WA regarded themselves as separate from the rest of Australia, and Canberra absolutely irrelevant. Corruption is endemic and money rules absolutely.  These alternating viewpoints lift the book, providing a fuller look at the reach of such endemic corruption. LINE OF SIGHT is a great book with a terrific sense of place and time, a palpable sense of tension, and a cast of characters that you can really get a connection with.” http://www.austcrimefiction.org/node/5710
  • “This is an outstanding book... There is a realness about the story, an edgy sorrow-filled inevitability... that compels you on...” crimedownunder.com
  • “I loved this book not just because it's a great story but because it's tough and strong but also has heart.  And I really admired the authenticity of Whish-Wilson's re-creation of the atmosphere of Perth in the seventies. Line of Sight is a great read...” Liz Byrski, author of The Gang of Four and Belly Dancing for Beginners http://lizbyrski.typepad.com/
  • “Line of Sight pulls you in like a powerful undertow; it drags you under and spits you out, gasping….Swann is a character that slowly gets under your skin, he could be your brother, mate or bloke around the corner….until he starts to come undone.  A compelling page-turner, it’s hard to believe it’s a first crime novel.” Rochelle Jackson, ABC 774 Crime Couch, author of The Texan: The Life and Times of Billy ‘The Texan’ Longley, and Inside Their Minds: Australian Criminals.
  • “Line of Sight is well drawn and convincing. The police resentment of Swann and his stance on the side of right resonates with reality. One can only hope it won’t be too long before Whish-Wilson turns out another book...” Denise Pickles, http://www.marymartin.com.au
  •  “Against an intimately realised Perth backdrop three stories intertwine...gripping and well constructed... there is a satisfying twist to the end of the tale...” Katherine England, The Advertiser

Reviews for The Summons

  • ‘An eloquent and thought provoking novel.' Katherine England, The Advertiser
  • ‘Hats off to a terrific first novel ... Original and stylish ... A powerfully imagined tragedy.’ Cath Kenneally, Sydney Morning Herald
  • ‘An unorthodox and imaginative story of quiet heroism.’ The Age
  • ‘A great joy to read.’ Brenda Walker
  • 'THE sickly, cloying atmosphere of Nazi Germany in the lead-up to World War II is captured brilliantly in The Summons.' Weekend Australian.
  • '...a thoughtful and thought-provoking read. Four stars.' Australian Bookseller & Publisher
  • ‘The Summons...anticipates a strong future for this writer who demonstrates that he has read widely, researched solidly, and thought boldly... one expects this novel or his future work to win him the acclaim he deserves.’ Text