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4 August 2010
Review: THE OLD SCHOOL, P.M. Newton
copy supplied by the publishers.
Sydney, 1992. Nhu 'Ned' Kelly is a young detective making her way in what was, until recently, the best police force money could buy. Now ICAC has the infamous Roger Rogerson in the spotlight, and the old ways are out. Ned's sex and background still make her an outsider in the force, but Sydney is changing, expanding, modernising, and so is the Job.
When two bodies are found in the foundations of an old building in Sydney's west, Ned is drawn into the city's past: old rivalries, old secrets and old wrongs. As she works to discover who the bones belong to – and who dumped them there – she begins to uncover secrets that threaten to expose not only the rotten core of the police force, but also the dark mysteries of her own family.
Bill Clinton has just become the US President, and Detective Ned Kelly has just failed Undercover Training Course #32 at the Goulburn Police Academy. It is a commonly held opinion that Kelly was always going to fail, set up as a lesson to other would-bes. Kelly is based at Bankstown Police Station, has been a detective for two years, and good at her job.The discovery of old bones in an excavation, and their subsequent identification, unravels elements of Kelly's past and threatens to destroy the memories that she and her sister have of their dead parents. Just as Kelly is really the new kid on the block, many of the other detectives have been around for decades, cadets and even higher when she was just starting school. Some are brushed with corruption, some are just plain tough.
THE OLD SCHOOL is strongly rooted in local Sydney history: the Royal Commission into corruption in the New South Wales police force, and political pillars from the late 70s: Aboriginal land rights and the wounds of the Vietnam War. P.M. Newton does an excellent job of weaving a story around these elements. The characters she creates are strong, credible, and well fleshed out. I'm immensely impressed with this book. It has an historical authenticity about it, but achieves a clever balance with the crime fiction.
My rating: 4.6
P.M. Newton is a Sydney based crime writer. THE OLD SCHOOL is her debut novel, and is promised as the first in a series, all featuring Detective Kelly, and set in recent Sydney history.
P.M. Newton's blog