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2019 - Shortlisted
As a writer and performer across all media, Tony Martin has consistently made us laugh for the past few decades. He continues to do so with Deadly Kerfuffle. A satirical romp about terrorism in suburbia, Martin steers us through the chicanes without losing pace or momentum.
A rich collection of characters inhabit the novel. Dangerously moronic baddies, bumbling intelligence agents, the nosey neighbour, the local pest, etcetera, they are all so recognisable. Martin manages the distinction between stereotype and cliché with aplomb and warmth. The characters are instantly recognisable, but with enough quirks to render them as engaging individuals. Even the narcissistic shock jock (there’s one in every city), Julian Spence. His cringe worthy populism and venality had me cheering when he got his inevitable comeuppance. And then there’s the accidental hero, Gordon, a lovable everyman trying to do the right thing by family, friends, neighbours and country.
Martin juggles the plot expertly, keeping all the balls in the air as it accelerates towards its climax, which in the time-honoured tradition of Australian humour involves a man in a frock. Like all good satire, Deadly Kerfuffle basks in the uncomfortable aura of plausibility.