Monday, 26 June 2017
TONY BLACK/MATT NEAL - BAY OF MARTYRS (2017)
True Detective set on Australia’s South Coast.
Clay Moloney, a cynical reporter with a regional Australian newspaper, is expecting an easy Sunday at work when the body of a young woman washes up at the Bay of Martyrs. The death is an inconvenience for Clay, who’s content filing obituaries and re-writing government press releases on the new multi-million-dollar airport. But the more he digs into the Bay of Martyrs incident, the more he realises the girl’s death is not a case of misadventure, despite what the police tell him. Clay becomes obsessed with the murder investigation, putting himself and his co-worker Bec, an Irish-born photographer, in danger. Will Clay achieve justice for the young student, or will those in power stop him before he uncovers the truth?
Master of Tartan Noir, Tony Black, collaborates with Australian author and journalist, Matt Neal, to create a thrilling criminal case of murder and corruption set on Australia’s South Coast.
An enjoyable reading trip to Australia’s South Coast in the company of veteran author Tony Black and newbie Matt Neal.
Bay of Martyrs is where the body of a young woman washes up on the beach, frightening a visiting family and setting in motion the twitching nose of reporter Clay Moloney. The death is quickly ruled as misadventure, which fails to satisfy Moloney’s gut instinct. Police laziness at work, or worse?
Clay and his sidekick, the new to Australia, Irish photographer Bec O’Connor sniff around the death in-between covering the more mundane aspects of the job on a regional newspaper.
I liked the two main characters. Bec O’Connor has a few skeletons in her closet regarding her family and clearly has issues with her mother. You kind of feel she is running away from events of the past, though I don’t think we fully understand why.
Clay Moloney is 40 and a bit world-weary. He likes a drink and the odd toke and has an on-off relationship with a bit of a bunny boiler. We discover a bit about his past life and loves as we venture through the book. Interesting, without distracting or taking any pace away from the mystery.
Together they make for a lively pairing. Adding a bit of spice to the mix is Bec’s romantic (or just casual fun?) relationship with one of Clay’s mates, a police officer – Eddie Boulton. Clay pumps Eddie for information on the police’s progress or lack of interest in the death, and feeds a few titbits back to stimulate some police action. Eddie pumps Bec and Clay doesn’t quite understand how he feels about the fling……amusement, jealousy or what?
In addition to the dead girl, we have a side story regarding a local politician and a major regional investment in an airport expansion at Warrnambool. An expansion which seems to benefit the politician pushing for it, Wayne Swanson and the wealthy developer, Lachlan Fullerton of Fullerton Industries that has been awarded the contract. It’s a deal which Clay has his suspicions about and which when the finances are taken apart analytically, doesn’t seem to stack up.
Ever the irritant we have Clay at various points annoying his newspaper bosses, the police, Swanson and Fullerton, as well as Bec and Eddie and the on-off girlfriend. The - dig, dig, dig, shake the tree, see what falls out – school of investigative journalism seems to work. A beating from the police reinforces Moloney’s belief that not everything is on the up and up.
A really enjoyable mystery, a great setting with plenty of local flavour, interesting characters, and a decent resolution to our initial questions. I did feel a slight irritation at the twist on the final page, a kind of Disneyesque ending I could have done without. That said, I’ll be keen to see what Clay Moloney in the hands of the authors gets up to next.
4 from 5
Read in May, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count – 234
Source – review copy from publisher Freight Books, after also being approved on Net Galley
Format – paperback version