Category Archives: noir


Brisbane Noir?

Robert “Bomber” Perrier’s debut novel Where Angel Fears To Tread is the story of Frank Angel, a hit man for a syndicate of Brisbane high-fliers. Between kills, Frank lives in a Highgate Hill penthouse listening to Bach, looking at Peg … Continue reading

The Life of D: a bleak novel

Possible cover for my work-in-progress The Life of D

I wish I could write a life-affirming novel like The Life of Pi. It is just not my voice.

I would like Barack Obama writing to me as he did to Pi author Yann Martel. The president could take quill to paper to write about my novel Iraqi Icicle. He could write something like ‘…an elegant proof of the existence of Good and Evil and bloody good read, mate.’ But presidents really like to endorse life-affirming books not a sardonic neo-noir wild ride like Iraqi Icicle.

Why is that goody-two-shoes constant Pi getting all the attention, anyway, with people making songs, books and movies about it. I believe I am safe ground in presuming Marten’s  title has some reference to that circular thingy pi.

Pi is a very pushy number always putting itself first, as in 2πr and πd. The speed of light is happily last in mc2. In mynovel the life ofD, the eponymous D struggles against the evil warlord Pi. Chapters 5-107 will metaphorically reference the injustice of the circumference of a circle not being universally accepted as dπ.

If it were not for us writers, these important issues would pass by un-noticed.

It is like Sammy Beckett wrote in Waiting for Godot

How is it that of the four Evangelists only one speaks of a thief being saved. The four of them were there-or therabouts-and only one speaks of a thief being saved.

Exactly, what is going on here? Is someone trying to pull the wool over our eyes? And to what purpose?

Or what about Alfred Doolittle’s rant in Pygmalion?

I’m one of the undeserving poor: that’s what I am. …

I don’t need less than a deserving man: I need more. I don’t eat less hearty than him; and I drink a lot more.’

You can’t argue with that splendid logic, but it took George Bernard Shaw to right it up for us all to see.

Barack Obama need not encourage these life-affirming novelists. Martel conceded writing The Life of Pi was its own rewards – the hefty royalty checks probably helped too. Let’s support us writers, shining our sardonic flashlights on the noir crawl spaces of life.

‘A good clear eye on the dirty ways of the world’

Bernie Dowling

Profane professions: background to a novel

Fortitude Valley was not named 
because it took guts to be there after dark.
It honored this ship which brought 
Scottish immigrants to Brisbane in 1849
AN American friend was surprised at the profane language Brisbane police officers use in my novel Iraqi Icicle, set between 1986 and 1992.

I was working only after hours in journalism for much of the period as I toiled full-time as a partner in an instant-print business.

The lot which befell me in the business was sales. Armed with a business card which read “sales manager” – I had no staff under me – I ventured out to talk to strangers about printing.
My prospective clients fell into various categories but two I remember well. The first were people who embraced me as a new-found BFF. The second tried to haggle a price so low, our business could not eke enough profit from the deal to feed a bird.
I was not enamored with the work but our business location was excellent.
It was in inner-city Fortitude Valley, near the Brisbane River and a stone’s throw from Brisbane’s Chinatown. I quickly learned it could have been more reliably called Vietnamtown.
I always tried to be back at the print shop for lunch so I could duck down to my regular Vietnamese restaurant. Main meals were $3, my favorite being squid stuffed with pork mince, served in a clay pot. A huge pot of steamed rice was 50 cents; a glass of wine or a pot of jasmine tea was $1.
Some of my friends said you risked life and limb in Fortitude Valley. I loved the joint with its mix of seedy nightclubs, music venues, the wonderful cafes and restaurants with the company of young artists and performers living in disused warehouses and ancient brownstones.
Apart from the Chinese and Vietnamese enterprises, most of the legal, illegal and in-between night-life businesses were controlled by Italians. That’s not racial stereotyping; that’s a fact. I must add many law-abiding generous and affable Italians lived and worked in Fortitude Valley and its surrounding suburbs.
Next door to our print shop was a strip club. Beside that was a gay nightclub which stood near an alternative live music venue.
A few hundred metres away was the building of the sometimes feisty, often strident, Sun tabloid newspapers, the Daily and Sunday Sun. By 1992 both had closed and the building was turned into apartments.
On the edge of Fortitude Valley was the Waterside Workers’ (longshoremen’s) Club which was a hub of left-wing politics, but also a lunch time refuge of assorted workers, mostly men. Public servants, firefighters and a sprinkling of racehorse trainers and jockeys were among the regulars. They gathered to talk and drink beer but gambling was a habit of many, so the meat-tray raffles and poker (slot) machines were popular.
Prostitutes worked the streets at night.
Fortitude Valley was a rough and tumble place, though I never had violence inflicted on me. Still, the local police station was a busy place.
Journalism, politics and policing were industries all marked by their practitioners liberally using profanities. It may have been due to the relatively small number of women in those professions, which has changed in recent times.
One memory remains.
Behind our printing business was a toilet and shower block which we also used as a warehouse.
Our managing director decided to rent it out to the strip club to make a few extra pennies.
One day two detectives burst into our premises to ask what we knew about the theft of a stripper’s car.
‘The poor girl had her car stolen and it was used in an armed robbery,’ one detective told us.
After a few questions he asked if he could use the phone.
This was his part of the conversation to HQ.
‘Anything on the poor girl’s car…What, they’ve caught the two blokes already…And she knew one of them…the fucking slag, we’ll do her.’
Morality was black and white for some police officers in those days. So it is for my character Sergeant Frank Mooney.
Buy the ebook of Iraqi Icicle HERE
The print version will be released on January 26.
For our video, Tom Waits’ car broke down on the way to Fortitude Valley and he hooked up with two strange dudes someplace else.