THE BIG ASK by Shane Maloney, Book Review: Caustic wit

The Big Ask is the fourth instalment in Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan crime thriller series.

The Big Ask Synopsis

Big Ask - Shane Maloney

Murray Whelan is in trouble. A disastrous election result is looming, and his days as a political minder seem numbered. But when his boss, Angelo Angelli, picks a fight with the trucking industry, and Murray finds himself on the receiving end of a fist at a city nightclub, his employment prospects seem the least of his problems. 

Genre: Action-Adventure, Crime-Detective, Humour

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Book Review

Australian author Shane Maloney is a very talented crime writer whose novels ooze an Aussie sensibility that really strikes a chord with me. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Maloney title, The Brush-Off, a couple of years ago and have been looking forward to spending some more time with hapless protagonist Murray Whelan.

The Big Ask is the fourth title in Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan Thriller Series. Okay, so I’ve now read titles two and four in the series, and it’s probably good to read them in chronological order to see the protagonist develop but my understanding of the story was not hampered by my having missed an episode. Maloney kindly provides any history the reader requires.

The Big Ask as with other titles in Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan Series is an entertaining mix of thrilling action and caustic wit.

Murray Whelan is an underdog who seems to just get up everytime life knocks him down. He makes mistakes – big ones – but he inevitably figures out a way to deliver a bit of his own Robin Hood justice to those who mistake him for a patsy. There is something quite unique about the Whelan character, an intellectual streak that belies his dry sarcasm and screw-up persona.

Maloney, through narrator Murray, has a unique talent for describing characters and setting a scene.

Howard Sharpe was a florid-faced, obese man in his early sixties. His belly preceded him in a bullish, self-satisfied way and his bibulous nose seemed to be glowing even more ominously than usual. He returned Agnelli’s greeting with a cursory nod. ‘You know Mike McGrath, don’t you?’ he grunted.

McGrath was his deputy secretary, a thin-lipped individual with round, horn-rimmed glasses and the tapering face of a high-minded ferret. Despite his title, Mike would’ve had trouble distinguishing a tip-truck from a tenor trombone. His true function was that of Howard’s bag man, number cruncher, head-kicker and general gofer. He was being groomed, it was widely believed, for a safe spot on the Senate ticket. To Mike McGrath’s way of thinking, anybody entering politics with motives other than ulterior was a prima facie idiot.

It has been said that Shane Maloney has done to Melbourne what Carl Hiaasen did to Miami.

The Big Ask is a fast-paced thriller with a very appealing Aussie cynicism that makes it hard to put down. I thoroughly recommend every Australian reader get themselves a copy of a Murray Whelan thriller.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5  — Overall 4.25

Get your copy of The Big Ask from:

Amazon Book Depository Booktopia AU

About the Author, Shane Maloney

Shane Maloney is an Australian crime-thriller writer with great wit. Find out all you’d ever need to know about Shane and his leading man Murray Whelan at his website.

– The first two of the titles in the Murray Whelan Series, Stiff and The Brush-Off have been made into movies starring Australian actor David Wenham – watch the movie trailers

This review counts towards my participation in the 2011 Aussie Author Challenge.