The Holiday Murders

Robert Gott

The Holiday Murders
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The Holiday Murders

Robert Gott

On Christmas Eve, 1943, the newly formed but undermanned Homicide division of the Melbourne police force is called to investigate the vicious double murder of a father and son. When Military Intelligence becomes involved, Homicide’s Inspector Titus Lambert must unravel the personal from the political. If only the killings had stopped at two. The police are desperate to come to grips with an extraordinary and disquieting upsurge of violence. For Constable Helen Lord, it is an opportunity to make her mark in a male-dominated world where she is patronised as a novelty. For Detective Joe Sable, the investigation forces a reassessment of his indifference to his Jewish heritage. Racing against the clock, the police uncover simmering tensions among secretive local Nazi sympathisers as a psychopathic fascist usurper makes his move. The Holiday Murders explores a little-known and sometimes violent corner of Australian history, and finds oddly modern echoes in its paranoia, xenophobia, and ugly fervour.

Review

The Holiday Murders is so satisfyingly local that you’ll spot the location of no less than three current Readings stores in the map on the front cover. However, it is also anchored firmly in a past that, mercifully, we can all hope will never be repeated: World War II, and a Melbourne underground filled with anti-Semitism, racism, hatred and psychosis.

A father and son are murdered – the son in a grotesque reimagining of Jesus Christ on the cross – and Homicide’s Inspector Titus Lambert is on the case. Alongside him is Detective Joe Sable, a man with a past that swiftly becomes too closely linked to the crimes, and Constable Helen Lord, a female police officer who has had enough of pushing paper around and is angrily trying to prove herself in a world where men refuse to take her seriously – until now.

The Holiday Murders is not for the squeamish – there are more murders on the cards, and those responsible have no qualms in making it a grim performance. In their efforts to protect the family’s remaining member, aspiring actress Mary, Titus gets help from home and Joe immerses himself in the world of those who hate his Jewish heritage. In the meantime, the story builds up to almost unbearable tension. Robert Gott made his mark in comedic fiction, and while this isn’t particularly laugh-a-minute stuff, it’s still something you’ll want to race through to the finish.


Fiona Hardy sells books and talks too much to customers at Readings Carlton, and puts together Dead Write for the Readings Monthly. She blogs haphazardly about movies and books (and sometimes music) and you can follow her on twitter: @readwatchtweet.

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