Saturday 3 March 2018



SAY IT'S NOT SO, but detective squads still put their faith in the whiteboard and texta, brainstorming difficult cases. Like this:
1. Hildvi dies. Accident, suicide, murder?
2. Wayne, distraught.
3. Josh, Ange, impeccable alibis.
4. Mrs Ellicott swears she heard a scream.
5. Kurt Cowboy - mysterious, dangerous, no known ID.
6. Operation Centipede - Brisbane, "colourful identity" Marko Kaljurand.
7. Fishscale, Charlie, Blow, Wogan = best quality cocaine.
8. Uluru ... Sorry, wrong whiteboard? No. Correct whiteboard. Add Alice Springs.

Seeking answers to myriad tricky questions, Detective Inspector Franz Heineken, aka Pufferfish, aka long-time Aussie blow-in, knows where he must go - to the two Australian places he never wanted to investigate, let alone re-visit: the fabled Red Centre, and his ethically questionable past.

"The writing is funny and sharp, and loaded with attitude and local colour ... For those lucky crime fans who will discover him for the first time, the good news is his new publisher has indicated his back catalogue will be re-released." - Herald Sun Weekend Magazine Melbourne.

"The narrative style is instantly recognisable ... well it is if you've enjoyed him before." - Col's Criminal Library Leighton Buzzard.

Big Red Rock sees a welcome return for Inspector Franz Heineken in the ninth Pufferfish mystery.

Uniquely quirky in character and narration with a distinctive Tasmanian setting, though on this occasion a trip to Alice Springs and some other parts of Australia get to feature fairly prominently. 

Heineken is investigating after the discovery of a woman’s body in her own home. Hildvi Ingersson went over a balustrade in her own home. Her husband, Wayne something of a local celebrity has an airtight alibi. Suicide, accident, murder? The neighbours aren’t helping either.

Forensics complicate the matter, with the involvement of a person known but unknown to our erstwhile detective and also the subject of a missing person inquiry. We get the chance to peel back a few layers of Heineken’s thick skin and see a glimpse of our detective’s younger soul.

Again we have the dynamics of the small team of Heineken, Rafe and Faye. We have affirmation, if it was ever required, that our prickly Heineken is not universally loved and admired by all his police colleagues. We uncover some of his secrets, as does the perceptive Faye and we wonder at a certain ambiguity the author leaves us with regarding their relationship.

Regarding the murder, long confirmed – the scope of investigation widens, a vanished suspect - Kurt Cowboy – where the hell is he? a global drugs operation – Operation Centipede, some smooth inter-agency cooperation after a typically prickly start, some high-class hookers, a cathartic but somewhat puzzling pilgrimage, a sort of family reunion and a slow reveal as all becomes apparent, with Pufferfish expertly - but not single-handedly - connecting all the dots and linking all the seemingly innocuous nuggets and strands.  

Wit, intellect, scenery, relationships – a lot more than a murder mystery going on here.

Unusual nay - unique and quirky (oh already said that), satisfying and recommended.

The seventh Pufferfish - 13-Point Plan For a Perfect Murder was reviewed here.

4.5 from 5

Read in February, 2018
Published – 2017
Page count – 312
Source – review copy from author
Format - paperback  


  1. Blogger playing up (still) Margot said...
    This series does sound really interesting, Col. And I do like the Tasmanian setting. Hmm...I think I ought to check this out.

    1. I really think this series might be one you would enjoy, Margot

  2. Love the well-deserved fame for the blog, great to see your name in lights (well nearly). I know you're a fan, and there are elements that might grab me, but I think it might be a step too far. Pufferfish. What a name.

    1. Cheers, this book's a keeper! I do honestly think you would enjoy the quirky style of this author and protagonist.

  3. These do sound interesting but don't seem to be easy to find. Which you may have said before. Maybe at the book sale, you never know what will be there.

    1. The series is being republished, so hopefully they will become more easily accessible. I know some are already available as e-books, but I'm aware that isn't your preferred reading format.