Book Review – THE PORT FAIRY MURDERS by Robert Gott

The Port Fairy Murders by Robert GottThe Port Fairy Murders Synopsis :

The Port Fairy Murders is the sequel to The Holiday Murders, a political and historical crime novel set in 1943, featuring the newly formed homicide department of Victoria Police.

The department has been struggling to counter little-known fascist groups, particularly an organisation called Australia First that has been festering in Australia since before the war. And now there’s an extra problem: the bitter divide between Catholics and Protestants, which is especially raw in small rural communities.

The homicide team, which once again includes Detective Joe Sable and Constable Helen Lord, is trying to track down a dangerous man named George Starling. At the same time, they are called to investigate a double murder in the fishing village of Port Fairy. It seems straightforward — they have a signed confession — but it soon becomes apparent that nothing about the incident is as it seems.

(Scribe Publications)


I’d read great praise of Robert Gott’s The Holiday Murders and so was excited to have the opportunity to read its sequel The Port Fairy Murders.

Since this sequel is more connected to the preceding novel than is often the case, to help readers like me get over that hurdle at the start of this book Gott provides a summary of where the The Holiday Murders left off.

Angela Savage’s endorsement captures my response to The Port Fairy Murders perfectly:

A dazzling mix of elegant prose, convincing period detail, and heart-stopping violence.

Gott’s extensive research into this tumultuous period in Australia’s history is clear and his depiction authentic without ever feeling overdone. His focus on how the societal norms impacted and shaped the lives of his characters allows his audience to experience what it would have been like to live in that time.

I particularly admired the refinement of Gott’s prose, and the startling effect created when such precise language is used to narrate characters’ bigoted vitriol and particularly grisly and unrestrained acts of violence. That coupled with Gott’s investment in the psychology of his characters makes The Port Fairy Murders compelling reading.

Gott really kept me guessing, only bringing disparate plot elements together right at the end.

And, you know how they say you should always leave your readers wanting more? Oh my goodness, Gott has certainly done that. I echo the feelings of Carol in her wonderful ‘open letter to Robert Gott’ after finishing The Port Fairy Murders.

Thankfully in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, in acknowledging there is unfinished business to be dealt with and loose ends that need tying up, Gott confirms another title will round out the trilogy. I eagerly await its release.

Read an extract of The Port Fairy Murders, or see Robert Gott speak at the Brisbane Writers Festival in September.

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

The Port Fairy Murders by Robert Gott
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Genre: Historical, Crime-Detective, Mystery, Thriller

Author Information: 

Robert Gott was born in the small Queensland town of Maryborough in 1957, and lives in Melbourne. He has published many books for children, and is also the creator of the newspaper cartoon The Adventures of Naked Man. He is also the author of The Holiday Murders and its sequel The Port Fairy Murders, and the William Power trilogy of crime-caper novels set in 1940s Australia: Good Murder, A Thing of Blood, and Amongst the Dead.

This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2015.

Other reviews of The Port Fairy Murders : Fair Dinkum Crime ; Sydney Morning Herald

* My receiving a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.

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