“Jesus Christ. I found one.” These words, blurted over the phone to Constable Snowy Lane, signalled the beginning of a series of events which were to reverberate in his life and shake Perth to its foundations. It was 1979. Mr Gruesome had taken another victim and all of Perth was riveted by the emergence of the dark side of the City of Light. Snowy Lane, first as a young cop, then as a private detective, finds himself inextricably linked with Mr Gruesome and the human and political power plays that unfold against the excess and corruption of the 1980s. Footballer, lover, detective, reluctant suburban boy Snowy turns his gaze on himself and the place of his birth; the bands, the derbies, the pubs, the America’s Cup, the politicians and the hills are brought into fond and ironic focus as Snowy closes in on Mr Gruesome and finds the beginnings of his own redemption.
Joint Winner of the 1996 WA Premier’s Book Award for Fiction
What more perfect a backdrop, then, than crime? For the tone of the book, I decided to use a similar aspect to that which I had used in my most successful and idiosyncratic songs like Half Time At The Football and Mugs Game a dark slant of suburban Australia seen through the eyes of an “average” suburban bloke my hero in the novel, Snowy Lane.I wrote the manuscript as I toured Australia playing music and setting up karaoke shows in Sydney. The first draft was completed in late 1992. I sent it to Fremantle Arts Centre Press and heard not a word from them for 6 months. On the very week I had decided to call and ask for the manuscript back, they sent me a note saying they liked the manuscript but wanted a second draft. The novel finally saw the light of day in the November of 1995. Chillingly, the fiction of the novel has since been played out in Perth, albeit 20 years later. A serial killer struck in the same area and under similar circumstances to what I wrote in City Of Light. In an even more amazing twist, at one time the head of the police task force into the real killings (unsolved as of May 1998) was Richard Lane, the same name as my detective hero, Richard “Snowy” Lane.
First published in 1995. New Edition available now from Fremantle Press.