Blurb - Collingwood Flat
Collingwood Flat – an historic crime novel set in 1860 Melbourne
Mick Conlon works as freelance bodyguard for Hardy, a petty gang leader in the unsewered Collingwood Flat shanty town of 1860 Melbourne. Conlon is ordered to protect Hardy’s archrival Madigan. He fails. Madigan is murdered by explosion.
Hardy, the obvious benefactor, is arrested for the murder. Desperate, Hardy orders Conlon to find the culprit. Conlon is comfortable in his undemanding role of bodyguard but has no idea how to be a detective. He has enough sense to consult Annie. Annie Kelly is Conlon’s girlfriend, a successful bar and brothel owner. She gives him the confidence to start as a novice detective, based on her reading of Poe stories.
The pair team with young friends Gul and Scratcher to find the murderer. The bomber’s confession indicates that the murder of Madigan and the framing of Hardy are small steps in a much larger plot, not just to control the rackets of Collingwood Flat but to gain corrupt control of the infant city of Melbourne.
Can Mick, Annie and their increasing circle of friends and allies put a stop to the plot and save their city?
Blurb - Alex and the Submarine
Alex is steering when Elixir sails for Apollo Bay with Granddad Morgan and sister Jess, excited on his first overnighter. As they leave Western Port, Alex and Granddad are surprised when a submarine surfaces nearby, but they pass by apparently unnoticed in their silent yacht.
Once on course in Bass Strait, Granddad radios the sighting to the police. Granddad has the midnight watch.
While the kids sleep, drug smugglers from the hijacked submarine board the yacht, smash the radios and injure Granddad Morgan's head as they leave. Two children are now confronted by challenges. They must reach harbour safely, get help for their Granddad [who may be beyond help] and avoid the drug smugglers, no doubt determined to kill the witnesses before they reach safety and the police.
This later fear proves true even before they can reach land, so the kids run for the hills above Apollo Bay the moment their feet touch the ground. New friend Tamarin, a local girl, helps them to stay alive and to start on the hardest parts of their adventure.
But can the three of them succeed together or will they just join the long list of victims of the drug smugglers?
Mick Conlon kept his eyes on the hazardous street surface in front of him and kept striding on. It paid to watch your step on Collingwood Flat, where thousands lived armpit to elbow in a slum, in unconscious mimicry of ‘back home’ – of Belfast, of Glasgow, of London and of scores of cities in Europe. Of course the stench was richer here, where the summer heat brewed an especially vile miasma. Only hope made 1860 Melbourne different to the old world cities.
‘That must be leadership’, Mick Conlon thought as he strolled homewards down the slight hill, an envelope with a cash advance tucked in his jacket pocket. ‘He wants me to do the impossible but has confidence in me. He might not be the brightest candle in the church, but he does try to lead us, as well as boss us round.’
A few were solid and two-storey like Annie’s Bar and Brothel, but most were just shacks, usually scavenged metal sheets nailed over reclaimed timber. Much of the timber had been reclaimed before the original owner even knew he’d finished with it. Sewers and drains were easy to spot. Wherever you were, you were standing in one.
Murder, beatings, corruption, theft and intimidation could be quite wearing to organise. He returned his revolver to his bedside table and quickly dozed off, a man with no conscience to trouble him.
His face was burnt even redder than usual and the wide mouth roared silently. To be accurate, his top half was leaning against the lower door frame, perched in a puddle of gore – his legs and lower body were nowhere to be seen. Amidst the turmoil, and after being sure that no one was in immediate danger, Mick Conlon filtered off through the gathering crowd of onlookers and sauntered up the Johnston Street hill to Wang’s café.
‘It’s not even time for smoko yet,’ passed through his mind.
Alex and the Submarine
An Adventure Story for Nine to Eleven years of age
Granddad Morgan and Jess both tossed their lines onto the pontoon as the boat eased gently back and then around the end of the finger, as Alex spun the wheel to bring it around. He lent down and gave the engine a burst of power in reverse which swung the bow around more quickly. His cheeks glowed with pleasure at remembering this trick and at the overall joy of being at the helm and heading off on a trip.
‘Granddad, there’s a big cruiser overtaking. Watch out for a bumpy wake in a minute. The idiot is not slowing down as he passes.’ ‘Thanks Alex and don’t be insulting.’ ‘You say it!’ ‘There’s a different rule for old farts!’
‘Alex has to sleep in the cockpit,’ Jess announced. ‘Oh no he … why?’ Morgan was sucked in but recovered quickly. ‘You know what he’s like when he eats baked beans.’ ‘But we all ate beans.’ ‘Yes but he scoffed three pickled onions while you two were cooking, as well.’ ‘Well if that’s the case we’d better launch the dinghy and tow it on a long line. He can sleep in that.’
Quiet could work both ways. A submarine could go about its clandestine, perhaps nefarious business and a lovely shiny dark blue Mottle 33 could slide past on the ebbing tide. He watched with mild curiosity and asked Alex what he thought the submarine could be doing, as it headed in the opposite direction to Elixir. It cruised slowly into the channel that Elixir was soon to leave. ‘It’s probably a navy sub isn’t it Granddad?’ ‘Yes, probably it’s here on an exercise. We’ll slide on past her and mind our business. Maybe some Cerberus cadets will come out to meet her by small boat.’
He ached: stinging skin ache, the morning’s bruises ache, and long contact with the ground ache. Alex needed to move and stretch desperately, but lay still under his nest of gum leaves. The sound that had woken him started again. ‘Huff, huff, huff,’ it went, like old Puffing Billy climbing up a grade near Emerald. Alex moved his head very slowly so that he could see out through the leaves. A metre away was another heap of leaves like his, reassuringly not adult in size. Two eyes peered back at him through the leaves. Another two gleamed at him from a much closer brown, furry face. The kelpie’s perpetual grin was wrapped around the steam locomotive sound effect. The other heap of leaves spoke. ‘You’re on my land.’ It was a girl’s voice, about twelve, younger than Alex. ‘Sorry. I was running away from nasty men and I had to hide and rest.’ ‘Real or pretend?’ ‘Real, too real. I’m Alex. What’s your name, land owner?’ ‘Tam, short for Tamarin, but people who call me that get unfriended. My dog is Jill. Over behind me is my mum and dad’s place. Right here is public forest, my forest. What are you going to do about the bad men?’ ‘Stay hidden and look for my brother. I can’t do that from under here though, can I? Is there anyone about?’ ‘I haven’t noticed anyone and Jill would be carrying on like a pork chop if there was a stranger on the ridge.’ Alex lifted himself out of the leaves and so did Tam. As he stretched and groaned, Tam saw his bruised legs, skinned knee and scratched face. She watched him brush leaves from the sailor’s jacket.
Jenson Medoc’s mother’s act of giving him a classy name before she left him on the convent steps with a note had backfired. He had class, but not what she’d hoped – he was criminal class through and through. If his drug smuggling caused misery for thousands of his countrymen, he did not care, as long as it brought money for him.
‘Since you killed the old man, you have to silence the kids!’