Saturday, September 10, 2011
Review: A MAN YOU CAN BANK ON
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
If you like your crime fiction quirk and laced with plenty of great laughs, then this fantastic caper-style tale set in the overheated world of the Australian Outback could be just the ticket for you.
Lambert Hamilton is a bank manager in the tiny town of Munni-Munni, “population bugger all and declining”, an Outback outpost that was circling the toilet bowl until he stumbled across a robbery crew's ill-gotten gains. Was three million dollars from the great bookie robbery a huge windfall for the residents, who've worked cooperatively to improve everyone's living conditions, buy themselves white Toyotas and Jack Russells named after winning stocks. But a decade later the crims, big city cops, a rogue investigator and two hit-men are all chasing the money, converging on Munni-Munni, and causing shenanigans aplenty. Kicking up a shitstorm, so to speak.
A MAN YOU CAN BANK ON is a wonderful romp - a Carl Hiassen-esque novel doused in true blue Aussie flavour. There's disgraced former big city cop 'Stretch', newly trudging the smalltown beat and suspicious of the town's relative prosperity in an economic downturn; Davo who farms thousands of barramundi; ginger-headed, freckle-faced Mick O’Connor who believes he's the only surviving member of the original Munni-Munni people, and is keen to explore his 'Aborigine roots''; a resident robotics expert; dodgy insurance salesman Woody; two famed hitman nicknamed Irish and The Bowler; and much more.
From the eccentric characters to the evocation of smalltown rural life, Hansen keeps jabbing the reader's funny bone while the pages whir, treading the tightrope between far-fetched and farce but never crossing the line too far into unbelievable territory. A MAN YOU CAN BANK ON is hilarious and vivid, but authentic - if skipping along the lunatic fringe at times. Delightfully so.
Hansen, who was born in England and schooled in New Zealand, before working in the advertising industry and settling in Australia, evokes a great sense of Australian country life in amongst the mayhem of his spiralling story. A MAN YOU CAN BANK ON is a unique and intriguing tale, packed with eccentric characters and memorable moments that stay with you long after the final page.