Monday, July 7, 2014
Review of Nice Try by Shane Maloney (Text Publishing, 1998)
Nice Try is the third book in the Murray Whelan series of political satires/crime stories (my reviews of the first two are here and here). Whelan is a three steps forward, two steps back kind of political operator -- wise to the games, shenanigans and back stabbing, but unable to always capitalise and often out manoeuvred or prey to rotten luck. He also has a habit of walking into explosive situations and those involving dead bodies. This is the case in Nice Try where he is co-opted into helping out a young woman whose former beefy boyfriend is seriously unhinged and roped into trying to shepherd a three person IOC group in Melbourne to assess the city’s bid to host the 1996 Olympics. Whelan is affable, self-depreciating, shambolic lead character and Maloney populates the story with a set of colourful schemers. The story has some nicely observed and amusing political satire and farce, though it’s never quite laugh out loud funny, and the contextualisation with regards the Olympics bid and the previous games held in the city is well done. Whilst the plot is engaging, it does overly rely on a couple of large plot devices mainly to do with the personal intersection of a number of characters that all happen to be in Whelan’s life at the same time. Overall, a tale that is a little too contrived, but is nonetheless a fun read.