2006 was obviously a hell of a year for crime novels in Australia, at least at the top of the list. I praise The Broken Shore
to the skies, and so far I've enjoyed the very different Crook as Rookwood
as well. A hundred pages in, Nyst shows great flair for mixing humor and menace, for plunging headfirst into the dirtiest of politics, and for incisive courtroom drama. That a lot of flair for just 100 pages, but Nyst also tells a story quickly, beginning scenes in mid-conversation, wasting few words, jumping from an event to its consequences years later.
Nyst comes by his courtroom knowledge firsthand. He's a high-profile criminal lawyer in Australia, and a number of the Oz mystery readers think the novel's gadfly lawyer, Eddie Moran, is a version of Nyst. And the title? Turn to page 30: "In these parts, it things weren't good, they weren't bad, they were `crook', and if things were really crook then they were `crook as Rookwood', because Rookwood was where the cemetery was, and simple working folk knew well enough that when you got as crook as you could be you ended up in Rookwood."
Nyst has a nice ear for the cadences of speech, too.© Peter Rozovsky 2007
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