Monday 7 February 2022



Travis is the night manager at the Cross Motel in Sydney’s notorious late-night district, Kings Cross. His life takes a drastic turn after a sex worker is brutally murdered on his shift.

Having broken up with his girlfriend and lost his dream of becoming a professional AFL player, Travis's life is in shambles. With the police breathing down his neck and his ex-girlfriend asking him to find her missing partner, Travis has got his plate full, and more.

His search takes him to Melbourne, where he also has to find two missing girls. Travis realizes there's only one way out: find the people responsible and bring them to justice. But can he make it out alive?

Lean, mean, down and dirty and my kind of book. 

A dingy motel and a dead prostitute and our main character - the night manager, Travis Whyte finds himself jobless and possibly in the crosshairs of a killer. Unless he turns the tables and finds him first. Chuck in a bit of aggro from the cops as well.

A bent cop - Olsen; missing people - Katya, Perry and Billy; a PI gig; another dead body - Billy; organised crime connections and shady lawyers; a new job - albeit somewhat temporary; an ex-girlfriend - Ahn; a new woman in his life - Babus; drug connections; nightclubs; tourist abductions; Russian crims; a dead protege - Paul; Sydney; Melbourne; football; backstory; a ruined career; family; an investigation; a pursuit and a bloody climax.

I really liked the main character, Travis Whyte. He's no saint but he's on the side of the angels. I liked his independence and his loyalty to his friends. I liked the quest for justice of whatever kind was available. He had the option of turning away from the hunt for the killer and having a relatively sane, ordered life but didn't have it in him to select the easy option. I think I was frustrated temporarily by him with this choice, but if there's one thing about making a character believable it's got to be the old adage - to thine own self be true. Travis couldn't have gone down any other road. 

Fast-paced, sleazy, violent. O'Leary doesn't just show you the seedy sights of two of Australia's most famous cities, he drags you down into the gutter along with the losers, deadbeats and addicts that populate this engrossing tale. I needed a bath with a wire brush and Dettol once I was done with this one.

4.5 from 5

Excellent narration from Dan Schaumann, which after some initial reservations really grew on me as the tale unfolded.

Sean O'Leary's Wonderland was enjoyed recently. His next collection - Tokyo Jazz and Other Stories will be devoured soon. 

Read - (listened to) January, 2022
Published - 2021
Page count - 260 (4 hrs 30 mins)
Source - review copy from author
Format - Audible


  1. I do like the Australian setting for this one, Col. And I agree about protagonists who have rough edges, so to speak, but are on the side of the angels. Those characters can be a lot more interesting than 'perfect' protagonists. I think this one might be for one of those times when I'm ready for something a bit darker and violent.

    1. Definitely agree Margot regarding slightly flawed characters being more relatable and sympathetic. I hope you consider this one when you fancy a darker read. The Aus setting is a big plus for me.