Be Dead and Be Damned: Murder with Malice in Melbourne
by Gerry Burke

"Then, of course, there were the lads back in the squad room. Naturally conservative, they would find it difficult to comprehend the motivation of a man wearing a dress."

If you’re familiar with Burke’s previous work, you know that regardless of the subject matter, the heart of the matter is really going to be about laughs—chuckles, chortles, giggles, guffaws, snickers, snorts, and the occasional convulsive howl. This time, the topic he is all over is murder Down Under in the teeming metropolis of Melbourne, Australia, sometime in the not-too-distant past. Good guys and bad guys collide in this tale of muscles and mayhem that includes cunning Chinese gangs, murdering mafiosos, foxy femme fatales, and lawmen and women who have to battle the system as well as the scofflaws.

A shady shyster is at the gooey, chocolate center of this humorous homage to mean street crime. It seems the counselor has had to make a run for it with a trunk full of incriminating tapes. How he got them, where they’re going, and whether or not he’ll live to use them all, unwinds as the author’s plot continually rewinds through the life and times of his criminals, cops, and cross-dressers.

While his plot is intricately woven, suitably complicated, and chock-full of chalk-marked victims, stone-cold suspects, star-crossed lovers, and double-crossed losers, his story still takes second place to the way in which he tells it. This one, like other Burke yarns, immerses the reader in a roguish repertoire of stiletto similes and mischievous metaphors delivered at the pace of a Gatling gun with a bump stock. If you have the wherewithal to survive his Vesuvius vocabulary and tsunami of smirks, you’ll be richer for the experience—minus the cost of the book, of course.

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