Saturday, April 24, 2021


‘Woah! Stop!’

The digger’s arm juddered to a halt.


‘You’d better take a look.’

‘What is it?’


‘Bones?’ Reluctantly, John stepped down from the cab into the rain.


‘Is that a jaw bone?’

‘You smashed the skull.’

‘Shit. We’re going to have to shut down the site. I’ll call the police.’

‘But what about the foundations?’

‘They’ll have to wait.’

‘We’ve got concrete coming tomorrow.’

‘Cancel it.’

‘But the house needs to be finished before the wedding.’

‘Nothing good will come from living above a dead body.’

‘Except I’ll be one if we’re still in the caravan.’

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

No greater rival

‘What are you doing?’ Cate asked, yawning.

‘Trying to get this report finished,’ John said, without looking up.

‘At four in the morning?’

‘I want to hand it over tomorrow. I mean today.’

‘You said it’s due next week.’

‘It is. I want it give it to Hanley early.’

‘He set the deadline.’

‘He notices these things.’

‘He’s concerned about you; that you’re going to burn out.’

‘I’m just trying to get ahead.’

‘By running yourself into the ground?’

‘By being the best.’

‘There’s no greater rival than one that doesn’t exist, John. If you’re being bested, it’s by yourself.’ 

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Review of On The Java Ridge by Jock Serong (2017, Text Publishing)

Two boats set out in Indonesian waters. One, the Java Ridge, skippered by Isi Natoli, is a tourist jaunt for Australian surfers. The other, the Takalar, carries refugees heading for Australia. It is not going to plan on either vessel, but then a large thunderstorm approaches. While the Java Ridge shelters in a lagoon on an occupied island, engine troubles prevent the Takalar making land. Drifting onto coral reef in heavy seas she flounders. The Australians and their Indonesian crew rescue as many people as they can, but over half the refugees are dead and one Australian is seriously injured. Meanwhile, in Canberra, the ruling party has just pushed through a new hardline policy regarding maritime assistance to vessels in trouble. In election week there’s little appetite to roll-back the policy, even if there are potentially Australians involved. Those stranded on Dana island are on their own.

On the Java Ridge is a morality tale concerning refugee and asylum seeker policy, with Serong exploring the politics and consequences of punitive programmes through three groups: the politicians and civil servants creating and enacting the policies, the Australian public, represented by a group of Australian surfers, and the asylum seekers themselves. Each has a principal character the story is hooked around: Cassius Calvert, former sportsman turned politician and the Minister for Border Integrity; Isi Natoli, skipper of the Java Ridge; and nine-year-old, Roya, who is travelling with her heavily pregnant mother, her father and brother missing in Afghanistan. Serong keeps the focus at the individual and group level throughout, capturing nicely the personal dynamics and lived experiences of the three groups. The result is a very humanizing, empathetic, character-driven tale that is threaded through with periods of danger, tension, action and loss, with the politics playing out in multiple everyday ways. The result is a contemporary social commentary that is not overly preachy or forced, but nonetheless drives home its message whilst remaining a thoroughly engaging tale of survival against the odds with a knockout denouement. I finished the book a few days ago and I’m thinking about the flurry of final sucker punches. A superior, slow burn, thought-provoking thriller.

Saturday, April 10, 2021


Amy hit the high note and held it.

Opening her eyes, three of the chairs had turned.

‘Wow! That was amazing!’

‘Who are you?’

She tried to compose herself. ‘I’m Amy. I’m 52.’

The next couple of minutes passed in a blur.

‘So, who are you going to pick?’

‘Nobody. I just wanted to sing; to see if a chair turned.’

‘You’re not …’

‘Thank-you.’ She strode from the stage.

‘Amy, wait.’

The presenter caught her in the wings.

‘I’m sorry; I’ll be gone by the time the series ends.’


Amy tugged the wig free. ‘That was my swansong.’

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Review of The Delicate Storm by Giles Blunt (2003, Harper Collins)

During a false spring, pieces of a body are discovered in woods outside of Algonquin Bay in Northern Ontario. Detective John Cardinal is assigned the case, but struggles to find leads. His efforts are not helped by the interference of the Mounties and secret service, neither of whom seem keen on solving the mystery. A few days later the body of a young doctor is found naked, seemingly raped. Cardinal’s partner Lisa Delorme picks up that case, but also makes little progress. Once Cardinal’s victim is identified there’s a lead to grasp onto which points back to events in Montreal thirty years before and an act of terrorism that derailed the Quebec independence movement and had lasting repercussions for policing and security. The only people who seem interested in revisiting what happened were the victim and Cardinal and Delorme and someone has done a reasonable job of evading evidence.

The Delicate Storm is the second book in the Cardinal and Delorme procedural series set in Northern Ontario. In this outing they are investigating two deaths, a dismembered man and a young female doctor, both found in woods outside of Algonquin Bay. Neither appear to be straightforward and progress is slow, not helped by inter-agency intransience. Following the trail of the dead man leads them to Montreal and acts of political violence that gripped and shocked the nation in 1970. Blunt puts in play all the ingredients for a decent police procedural meets political thriller. However, after a decent start the story starts to lose its way. In the middle section, when the tale moves to Montreal the pace drops to a crawl and the story becomes a drawn out political history lesson on Quebec separatists and specific events. It’s interesting in its way, but is way too much tell and not show. After that, the tale winds to an underwhelming denouement, with the excitement coming more from it taking place in an ice storm rather than the mystery. What saves the story to an extent is the revealing of some of Cardinal and Delorme’s back story, with some nice character development. Overall, however, a tale that had lots of potential suspense that starts well then slowly fizzles out.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

It's just begun

‘Where are you going?’

‘I’m leaving.’

‘At this hour? I thought you were staying the night.’

‘I have to go.’

Greg reached out a hand. ‘Are you okay?’

Maria pulled away. ‘Let’s end this.’


‘We said no strings, remember?’


‘I can’t do this. You’re a player.’

‘But …’

‘I don’t want a serious relationship. And I’m not going to let myself be hurt again.’

‘You’re hurting now.’

‘It’ll be worse later. Trust me it’s better this way.’

‘But we …’

‘There is no we. There never was.’

‘We can work it out.’

‘No. It’s over.’

‘It’s just begun.’

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.