Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction, this is the second Murray Whelan adventure.
Murray Whelan, political minder, is world-weary, terminally horny, and addicted to cigarettes. On a sultry Melbourne summer night, while Murray is in the Botanic Gardens tasting Salina Fleet's apricot lips, a dead artist is being fished from the ornamental moat outside the art gallery. Whelan goes looking for the big picture among the culture vultures of Melbourne's art world and quickly learns there is nothing abstract about a loaded gun. A romantic comedy and drop-dead thriller, The Brush-Off mixes high art with low blows.
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I read Shane Maloney back in high school and listening to this audiobook brought it all back. He's witty, he's political, and completely safe - no terror-stricken 21st century for Shane Maloney, but the laidback incompetent local politics of the late 80s. He does tend to do that thing that crime writers do, where women are attracted to the sleuth/detective/total amateur like mozzies to human flesh, but hey. Apart from the first chapter this shtick doesn't get on my nerves as much as it usually does. I think Shane Maloney captures Australia well, although I might be saying that because he doesn't shy away from talking about migrant communities. It adds a new dimension to the usual Anglo-Aboriginal dichotomy in Aussie novels.
And how good is Rupert Degas? The second he got to Angelo Agnelli, that character seemed to walk whole-bodied out of my headphones - first time for me, but very much appreciated. He gets Shane Maloney's sense of humour. Between the two of them, my gut almost ruptured with laughter at the octopus scene.