Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: GANGLAND NORTH SOUTH & WEST by James Morton and Susanna Lobez

Gangland North, South & WestI'm not familiar with the previous installments in the Gangland series, hence I had no preconceptions of what to expect style and content-wise going into this book. As a result, I was somewhat surprised to read the broad spanning accounts across a century or more of crimes committed in Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory were condensed into 190 pages.

Drug running, people trafficking, mafia allegations, hit men, prostitution, mass murder, serial killings, bank robbing, gold theft, biker warfare - every element of criminal activity is touched upon, accounted and glossed over. While interesting, the brief nature left me wanting more. That said, there is a lot to mull over in this book and the authors should be commended on their effort to encapsulate so much criminal diversity into a one stop quick reference guide of sorts.

It was interesting to read that not much has changed over the course of a century in terms of the types of crime committed and the manner by which the criminals themselves undertake their unlawful activity. Of particular interest to me was the notion of my hometown (Adelaide) being dubbed the 'city of corpses' as opposed to the more well known and less evil moniker 'city of churches. It was a real eye opener that's for sure. As of publication, Adelaide had the highest number of shootouts in the country for the 2013 calendar year with 18 as of March.

GANGLAND NORTH SOUTH & WEST works best as a gateway book into the historic criminal underworld of the more unassuming Australian states. The factoids wet my appetite for more and I'll be chasing down some of the titles mentioned in the comprehensive selected bibliography.

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