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Best of the Best: Michael Robotham’s Top Five Crime Fiction Picks

July 18, 2018

About the Author:

Born in Australia in November 1960, Michael Robotham grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped in 1979 and became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney. For the next fourteen years he wrote for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies. Twelve of these non-fiction titles were bestsellers with combined sales of more than 2 million copies.

His first novel The Suspect, a psychological thriller, was chosen by the world’s largest consortium of book clubs as only the fifth International Book of the Month, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries. It has been translated into twenty-two languages, including some he’s barely heard of.

His second novel Lost won the Ned Kelly Award for the Crime Book of the Year in 2005, given by the Australian Crime Writers Association. It was also shortlisted for the 2006 Barry Award for the BEST BRITISH NOVEL published in the US in 2005.

Michael’s subsequent novels The Night Ferry and Shatter were both shortlisted for UK Crime Writers Association Steel Dagger in 2007 and 2008. Shatter was also shortlisted in the inaugural ITV3 Thriller Awards in the UK and for South Africa’s Boeke Prize. In August 2008 Shatter won the Ned Kelly award for Australia’s best crime novel. Bleed for Me, Michael’s sixth novel, Bleed for Me was shortlisted for the 2010 Ned Kelly Award.

Michael can most often be found working in his ‘pit of despair’ (basement office) on Sydney’s northern beaches where he funds the extravagant lifestyles of a wife and three daughters.

Purchase a copy of The Other Wife here

Read our review of The Other Wife here 


There seems to a theme running through my choices of five great Australian crime novels. Four of them involve outsiders returning to small outback towns and discovering the dark side of rural life. Instead of writing about the ‘mean streets’ these authors have written about the isolation, dust, blowflies and burning blue skies.

THE BROKEN SHORE by Peter Temple

The late, great master storyteller, gave us so many wonderful crime novels and this is Temple’s finest. Joe Cashin, a Melbourne homicide detective, is posted to his hometown to recuperate from his serious physical injuries sustained in the line of duty. Against a background of family tragedy, politics, police corruption and racism, he investigates the death of a wealthy local man, Charles Burgoyne.

BITTER WASH ROAD by Garry Disher

Sometimes when a writer has been around a long while, they begin being taken for granted, or the quality of their writing slips. Garry Disher gets better with age and with each book. This is a masterfully plotted trip into the dark recesses of small-town Australia, where an outsider detective discovers what can happen if you upset a corrupt system.

THE DRY by Jane Harper

Another modern classic, THE DRY tells the story of Melbourne cop Aaron Falk reluctantly returning to a remote Australian farming community to attend the funeral of former best friend Luke Hadler, who has killed his family and turned the gun on himself. You will feel the heat, taste the dust and blink into the glare as old secrets and new ones are revealed.

WAKE IN FRIGHT by Kenneth Cook

I admit to watching the classic 1971 movie first, but the book is just as dark and horrifying. John Grant, a young refined school teacher from Sydney, stops overnight at a rough outback mining town and plunges into a alcoholic, sexual and spiritual nightmare that he cannot escape.

BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent

In this brilliant literary debut, Hannah Kent brings to life the final days of a young woman accused of the brutal murder of her former master in Iceland in 1829. Awaiting her execution, Agnes is sent to an isolated farmhouse to wait out the winter, where she lives with a local family, who begin to question her guilt.


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