Book Review: Three Crooked Kings by Matthew Condon

I heard Matthew Condon speak at Literati on the Gold Coast in May this year and was so impressed by his talk that I bought his latest book, Three Crooked Kings. For those who don’t know Queensland’s history, this book is about the lives of the key figures in the Queensland Police Force from the 1950s to the 1970s and the corruption that was endemic in the force during that time, eventually culminating in the Fitzgerald Enquiry. Three Crooked Kings stops short of the enquiry, which will be dealt with in a sequel, All Fall Down.

Matthew was fortunate to have access to the diaries of one of the key players, Terry Lewis, who eventually became Police Commissioner and is now in his eighties. It is also a credit to Matthew that no one has sued him, and this appears to be because of the fair and balanced way he has reported these issues.

The book starts with the shocking death of prostitute and ‘madam’, Shirley Brifman, in what appears to be a murder through a forced drug overdose.

Matthew has done extensive research, interviewing vast numbers of people from policemen to bartenders. Where there is an accusation, if possible, Matthew has given the accused a right of redress.

In telling this story, he has employed all the techniques of good storytelling, creating a fascinating tale told in a thoroughly readable style, a testament to Matthew’s many years as an award-winning newspaper journalist and the author of many books.

I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, and I thoroughly recommend Three Crooked Kings.

Title: Three Crooked Kings
Author: Matthew Condon
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
ISBN: 9780702249112 (epub)

Available from Amazon

Jacks and Jokers, the follow-up to this story, is also out now


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