PETER DOYLE – The Big Whatever
When it comes to sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll, Billy Glasheen’s always been in the vanguard, but as the swinging 60s turn into the 70s, he’s living a quiet life. He has kids now, and he’s in debt to the mob, so he's keeping his head down, driving a cab, running some low-level rackets. He may as well have gone straight, it’s so boring. Then one day everything changes.
Billy picks up a trashy paperback he finds in his cab, and its plot seems weirdly familiar. One of the main characters is based on him . . . Only one person knows enough about his past to have written it—Max, his double-crossing ex-partner in crime. But Max is dead. He famously went up in flames, along with a fortune in cash, after a bank heist. If Max is somehow still alive, Billy has a score to settle. And if he didn’t get fried to a crisp, maybe the money didn’t either. To find out, Billy has to follow the clues in the strange little book—and rapidly discovers he’s not the only one on Max’s trail.
The Big Whatever is the fourth book in Peter Doyle’s acclaimed series, which has grown into an epic underground history of postwar Australia, where crooks, entertainers, scammers, corrupt cops and politicians all rub shoulders, chasing their big paydays. With its ingenious novel-within-a-novel structure, it's both a grab-you-by-the throat crime story and a shrewd reflection on the early 70s, a defining period in modern Australian life. And in the modern tradition of crime storytelling that encompasses Elmore Leonard's and Charles Willeford’s novels, Quentin Tarantino’s movies, and TV series like Breaking Bad, The Big Whatever is at once darkly funny and deadly serious.
"The Big Whatever can be read as a caper novel or a lament for the ’60s and the way a few slimy characters sank the peace and love . . . There’s plenty of retro appeal here, harkening back to Newton Thornburg’s 1976 cult classic Cutter and Bone.” — Booklist