Black Teeth by Zane Lovitt
If you are a local who decides to rush out and buy Black Teeth just after you read this review, you’ll find yourself with the ultimate literary luxury: reading a book in July in Melbourne set in a Melbourne July not so long ago. When you turn the pages you’ll be wearing gloves, just like Jason Ginaff does a lot of the time, since he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t like the cold, or leaving fingerprints. But what he does like is finding the digital fingerprints of others: businesses can have their potential employees investigated, their deleted MySpace pages and embarrassing pasts retrieved. Potential friends can have their Twitter accounts hacked to see what they are like. And those off the grid – like retired detective and technophobe Glen Tyan – can still be found, if Jason so wanted to find him. Or find Rudy Alamein, direly awkward twentysomething, rich, alone, bitter and full of revenge, waiting in the dark with a jagged tattoo on his hand. One that Jason has as well.
Lovitt was the Ned Kelly Award-winning author of the collection The Midnight Promise, and this full-length novel is another testament to his skills as a storyteller. The voice of Jason, an ungainly tech-head who would righteously mock me in online forums for using the phrase ‘tech-head’, is clear and true: a man shrouded in anxiety and embedded in the world of his laptop, infrequently surfacing under a new identity to face the world and stitch someone up. Life is fairly standard for him until tracking down the blustery Tyan and the unpredictable Alamein leads him to the final days of retribution invested in a decades-old crime. Thick with deception, and with a core mystery that unravels along with Jason’s moral code, this is a tale both dangerous and faintly absurd in the best kind of way – when a non-professional investigator stumbles into a dangerous situation and we follow gladly along with him.