By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Marmalade Files
By Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann (Fourth Estate, $29.99, softcover, 311 pages)
Realise that fiction is stranger than fact as you read this “imaginative romp through the dark underbelly of politics” by two veteran Walkley Award-winning political journalists.
The fertile imagination of Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann has delivered a novel— with many zany plot bends and twirls—that will leave your head in a spin.
The story is fiction, but its roots are embedded in a familiar landscape: one can’t help but look for comparisons!
No wonder, when there’s a former Labor PM thrown aside (to become foreign minister). In this story it’s a woman, who “…had been a gifted Chinese scholar, fluent in Mandarin …’’
Catriona ‘‘Attila the Hen’’ Bailey has a work ethic bordering on the demented, ‘‘burning through staff’’ and is socially autistic.
Even the Minister for Defence Bruce Leonard Paxton is the “least educated man ever to have been sworn in by the Governor-General as Minister for Australia’s proud defence services”.
The experienced Canberra insiders appropriately begin the story on the morning after the Press Gallery Midwinter Ball. Against a true capital backdrop, traversing through the city’s cafés and drinking venues, it centres on seasoned journalist Harry Dunkley’s search for a champion story after a mysterious photograph comes into his possession.
In his quest to get closer to the truth, he gets sucked deeper into deadly political games with detours to Washington, Beijing and Bali.
Fidelity and civility have long given way to concession and deceit. Harry has to negotiate the toxic corridors of power where the Toohey Government hangs by a thread, Opposition senators stalk, union thugs engage in class warfare and television anchors flatter and sneer.
This time the advertising blurb is spot-on: “an explosive novel of lies, lust and political bastardry”.
Edition 405, 15 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.