25 May 2009

Review: THE BAD POLICEMAN, Helen Hodgman

Allen and Unwin 2001, ISBN 1-86508-435-2, 173 pages

THE BAD POLICEMAN begins with a day in the life of Australian Police Constable Marcus Blainey. In fact the book recounts many such days. Blainey tells us right from the beginning that he has "done bad things". He is only too conscious of what a contrast he is to his patrol car partner Steve, ever eager, always ambitious.

In truth life has dealt Mark Blainey many blows. His marriage has collapsed - what policeman's hasn't? - and the job doesn't always allow him to dispense the sort of justice he would like to see. But then he often takes the easy way out. The poet in him is ever conscious of a burden of human misery and stupidity. Mark Blainey is disillusioned by the job, often ready to take advantage when it is on offer, but one thing really gets to him - young children caught up in the nightmare worlds of adult predators.

I changed my mind a number of times while reading THE BAD POLICEMAN. It is not a novel in the conventional sense of the word, more a series of connected incidents occurring in Marcus Blainey's world. And yet there are story threads, in the way that things that happen to us in our everyday lives are often connected to other things that have happened to us.

In the long run, I decided it was an interesting book, not because it is crime fiction in the usual sense of a murder mystery or a thriller, but there are crimes. The structure allows it to be almost stream of consciousness, with Marcus Blainey using the reader as a confessional, a way to vent his frustrations at his inability to right wrongs.

I didn't like it quite as much as Sunnie, and a bit more than Sally. Despite the fact that it is relatively short, I didn't find it a particularly quick read. And it's not a cheerful book - you have been warned! At times the language may offend as well.

My rating 4.2

The National Library of Australia lists 13 books by Helen Hodgman, the first JACK AND JILL written in 1978, and THE BAD POLICEMAN the most recent (2001), but I can find almost no other information about her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

check the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. short bio. feminist, lesbian (?); probably one of those good writers who never make it out of Australia.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin