Books by Jon Cleary

BLEAK SPRING by Jon Cleary
Released: March 21, 1994

Veteran author Cleary's Australian Inspector Scobie Malone of Sydney's police force (Dark Summer, etc.) is grappling with the murder of small-time lawyer Will Rockne, shot in his car in the parking lot of a local beach club, his wife, Olive, only yards away. Rockne's office safe turns up ten thousand in cash and a personal bank account in the millions. His young secretary confesses to one salacious weekend with her boss—a fact that appears more upsetting to Rockne's 18-year-old son Jason than to Olive, whose chief support seems to be high-powered lawyer Angela Bodalle. Tracking the source of Rockne's fortune uncovers connections to a bank with branches in very exotic locales, to wealthy bookie Bernie Bezrow, and to a mysterious car salesman with several aliases, one of them Dostoyevsky. There are more killings before a final confrontation, with hostages, seals the fate of the money and the killer. A steadily absorbing plot with some untraditional facets, a clutch of well-drawn characters and a detective who continues to be warm, intelligent, and unsmug make Bleak Spring one of Cleary's best. Read full book review >
DARK SUMMER by Jon Cleary
Released: April 24, 1993

Who injected low-level informer Scungy Grime with a curare derivative and then tossed him in Inspector Scobie Malone's backyard pool? As Scobie (Pride's Harvest, 1991, etc.) and Russ Clements review the facts, another poison fatality pops up, then another, and the two officers are soon wending their way among Australian ``crims,'' specifically the now-retired Jack Aldwych, a Godfather figure; Jack Junior, his supposedly legit-businessman son; Jack's social-worker girlfriend, the steely-eyed Janis; wharf rats known as The Dwarf and Snow White; rival ganglords; and an anonymous phoner who warns Scobie to mind his own business. One more will die and another be permanently paralyzed before Scobie and Russ can pinpoint all the villains and their motives—including big-time smuggling, a marriage gone sour, a former cop with a murderous past, Bolivian drug connections, and Nazi leanings. This time out, Cleary doesn't succeed in tying up all the dangling threads, at least not in any way that makes sense. Still, there's much to admire here, including two demanding father-son relationship and the tough-minded Scobie. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 16, 1991

Detective Inspector Scobie Malone and sidekick Sergeant Russ Clements have been sent from their Sydney headquarters (Murder Song, etc.) to the Australian Outback to help solve the murder of Ken Sagawa, manager of South Cloud, a Japanese-owned cotton factory in the town of Collamundra. The local cops—Narvo and Baldick—are cooperative to a point, but Scobie is soon aware that the town's power center is autocratic Chester Hardstaff, whose equally autocratic daughter Amanda is married to hard-drinking Dr. Max Nothling. Hardstaff's own wife was murdered years before, in a case never solved. Scobie and Clements move gingerly but tenaciously in the face of heavy local prejudices against outsiders and against their own Aborigines. The puzzle the two finally solve is muddled and undermotivated; Cleary's narrative style is overembroidered with philosophical asides, but, still, this is worth reading for its cleareyed picture of the life and people in an isolated Outback town. Read full book review >
NOW AND THEN, AMEN by Jon Cleary
Released: Feb. 17, 1989

Australia's Inspector Scobie Malone (Dragons at the Party, etc.) quickly discovers that the dead nun on the whorehouse porch is the illegitimate granddaughter of Fingal Hourlgan, billionaire businessman, who barely knew her. Her mom Brigid paints sardonically anti-Catholic art; her uncle the Archbishop, who wants to be the Pope, is the Vatican's leading anticommunist; and the young nun herself was a Sandinista-supporting Nicaraguan missionary—one who may have uncovered a contra arms-smuggling plot and tried to warn billionaire Granddad, his business nemesis Sir John, and the Archbishop. The cleric uncle flees to Rome; Inspector Malone follows and is almost killed (for the second time); and, through flashback, Grandfather Hourigan's past emerges: he was a Capone go-fer/murderer. Meanwhile, we also learn of Sir John's past—as a young hustler; spurned suitor of Brigid; and murderer. Did a family member order the nun's death? Which is more powerful, the church or business? Can political clout buy a popedom? The resolution involves a state funeral, professional assassins, and discretion. Cleary's talented storytelling moves briskly along, successfully intertwining past and present histories, secular and political concerns. And Australia truly shimmers. Read full book review >