Back in the 1980’s I read Robert G Barrett’s first novel, “You Wouldn’t Be Dead For Quids”. This novel featured a laconic Australian character by the name of Les Norton, who worked as a bouncer, enjoyed a beer, sport, and women. Les was one for solving mysteries and getting into scrapes.
I’ve just read the 12th Les Norton novel in the series, Goodoo Goodoo, and in all those years he hasn’t matured any. Now working as a security guard and house sharing with a pothead in Bondi, his interests remain the same.
For the first 70 pages of this book we relive a couple of days with Les: a guest performance at a radio station, meeting up with an ex in a bar in Bondi, a holiday in Cairns for the purpose of whitewater rafting, picking up a young thing with a new age bent for some boisterous sex, and a pub brawl.
We finally move onto Cooktown where Les is looking into the disappearance of two scuba divers off the Barrier Reef. There are more beers, Jack Daniels, brawls and scrapes, and the mystery is solved in less pages than the lead up with a conclusion that I suspect is tempered by the damage done to the brain cells by all the booze consumed.
I understand that this is contemporary writing, though even I was a bit shocked by the continual expletives used, especially coming from the female characters.
Is Les still the laconic Aussie, or just a boring bogon? Initially I was concerned it was just me getting”old” , but upon reflection, I think it’s Norton getting boring. The conversations between Norton and his pickup, the Rainbow Princess, were neither fun nor clever.
I was extremely disappointed with this read. It reminded me of one of those cheap paperbacks you could buy thirty years ago that was relegated to a box of reading material kept in the outhouse, the kind of reading that was then relegated to the boot of the car in case you were caught short and needed to do a “bushie”. Yes, as Les would say, this book was crap.