When people think of '60s Britain they think of The Beatles, Twiggy and Michael Caine womanising his way through London. But miniskirts and The Who didn't mean anything to the working man in Scotland. The shipyards are failing, sectarianism still holds sway, and the only thing you have to rely on along the banks of the Clyde is your work, your creed and your family. But with the first two failing and the last one slipping away, what's left to cling to? Close is a story of family and belonging that begins in Glasgow and ends in Australia. It's the story of Jimmy Baxter, a working-class husband and father, a failed footballer and a middling boxer. He wants out of the city – out of his own skin – but his shameful past as an illegitimate child holds him back. Looking for a place in the world he befriends two men: one, a German immigrant who survived the World War II bombing raids Jimmy helped create; the other a well-connected art dealer who goes on to seduce Jimmy's own wife. Meanwhile, in modern-day Melbourne, the Baxters' descendant makes his own search into the past – to reconstruct the circumstances that led to his birth, tracking down the historic clues of Jimmy and Jude Baxter's life in Glasgow and the truth that brought his family to Australia in the first place...
Private investigator Andrew Schlakier is hired by a mysterious government agency that wants a conviction on a ten-year-old murder case – and is willing to pay handsomely if he delivers. Broke, burnt out and binge drinking since splitting with his girlfriend, Schlakier takes on the cold case against his better judgement. He begins tracking the whereabouts of Christopher Hohl – the eldest son of one of Australia’s richest families. Questions hang over him concerning the disappearance of his wife a decade earlier, for which he is widely believed to be responsible.
But far from unearthing a man of murderous intent, Hohl’s back story reveals a family tragedy in which he was an innocent victim. Is Hohl the cold-blooded predator the media paints him as or just fodder for a vociferous press baying for blood? Schlakier seems to be the only person who believes his target is not guilty, even while evidence to the contrary continues to mount. But as Schlakier traverses the streets of Melbourne, the state and the entire continent in search of clues, each lead propels him further into jeopardy – and a step closer to the man who could put his very own life in peril.
Author's note: This work is inspired by the life of Robert Durst and the documentary, The Jinx, which chronicles it.
A man. A heartbreak. A boat. Afloat. What do you do when your wife kicks you out of your home and you've got nowhere to live? Well, if your name's Matthew Swain, you live on a boat. It doesn't matter that you don't know anything about the sea or that the person who sold you the craft is dodgy boat dealer Garry Jones. What could possibly go wrong?
Matthew Swain is a devoted father of three, deeply in love with his wife and owner of a struggling English tuition centre in Hong Kong. His world is shattered when he tragically loses his eldest daughter. His life becomes further unhinged when he discovers his wife is having an affair with an ophthalmologist.
Swain is forced to find somewhere new to live and out of sheer desperation comes up with the idea of living on a boat in the local marina. While fighting his inner demons, Swain is also confronts external challenges as the boat almost sinks (twice) and almost blows up (once). Despite the urging of his companions, an immoral boat dealer and a Filipina domestic helper, to loosen up and make a fresh start he unswervingly tries to piece his damaged family back to together.
But unable to consummate his grief for his lost daughter and at the mercy of his capricious wife, Swain is pushed to breaking point until – at the brink of insanity – something has to give.
Over two horrifying nights in March 1941, the Luftwaffe bombed Glasgow’s Clydebank Shipyards. The destruction and loss of life was enormous, with the death toll widely believed to be higher even than that of the German bombing of Coventry. Seen through the eyes of two Scottish engineers, this short work of fiction seeks to capture the dreadful unfolding of events on the unsuspecting people of Glasgow.
Journalist Craig Fox arrives in Hong Kong to take up a position as a magazine editor for Pronto Media, and soon finds out that all is not as it seems on the surface. Rather than being serious publications, the magazines are being run purely for advertising profit in a masterly sleight of hand by the proprietor, Mark Chiefly. He sells the advertising on the premise that the printed circulation is far higher than it really is. His mantra is that advertising makes money and editorial costs money. And he allocates his resources accordingly, which means that his staff are either dishonest or demoralised – or both. By day they work – grudgingly. By night, they embark on a spree of drink, sex and drugs that culminates in an episode on a boat where one of their female companions on board overdoses on ecstasy.
The tenure of Fox changes with the arrival of two new members of staff at Pronto. Farnsie De Villiers, an accomplished and plain-speaking South African journalist, who reveals to Fox what a sham his place of employment is and instills a mutinous streak in his colleagues.
The other is the gorgeous and smart Melissa, with whom the protagonist falls in love. But due to feelings of vulnerability at his lowly place in the scheme of things at Pronto, he is unable to woo her. From here the protagonist descends into a moral abyss, as he uses any means possible to get what he wants …
Meet Roger Vim – a 24-year-old graduate from university East Anglia with a degree in software engineering. He also has Asperger’s. Vim has strong opinions on a range of topics – not least of which is that Asperger’s is most definitely not a disorder. Merely an alternate mindset.
Vim wakes up in a Norwich hospital without any idea how he got there. Things get even stranger when his comedic hero gets wheeled in and takes up residence in the bed next to him...
A-ha! This is the version of Knowing Me Roger Vim that contains Vim's fan fiction of mock chat-show host Alan Partridge. And provided there's not the threat of a court injunction from the BBC for breach of copyright, here it will remain. And on that bombshell ...
Dodgy boat dealer Garry Jones is run out of Hong Kong when his once-lucrative business falters and he is charged by the police over fake ownership papers for a new car. The hard-drinking, hard-womanising Jones lands in Shanghai, where he teams up with old business associate Mister Near.
But it quickly becomes apparent that it’s a case of out of frying pan into the fire, as Jones becomes embroiled in Mister Near’s numerous get-rich-quick schemes – most notably trying to attract high rollers to the gambling tables at the Macau casino complex in which Mister Near has a stake. All aided and abetted by brilliant but morally bankrupt lawyer Frank Lee Addick, escaping his own grubby past.
After a harrowing meeting with his violent and bitter father and the tragic death of his girlfriend’s son in a typhoon, Jones questions his own self worth and searches for meaning in an increasingly murky world.
Things begin to spiral out of control as a Macau bureaucrat is murdered in a business deal gone wrong, with Mister Near the prime suspect. The noose tightens as the authorities close in. Finally, the Shanghai office is raided by the police and all present are arrested on charges of illegally soliciting gamblers for the Macau casino.
Jones is faced with a decision: continue on a path of self destruction or change his ways before it’s too late.