Murder in the Off-season

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

In Murder in the Off-Season, Retired Rock Star status means when Sydney’s winter weather sets in it’s a straightforward matter of making a booking and clearing off to somewhere warmer, in this case the new resort of Ulambor, an hour’s ferry ride from Lombok.

Since he’s inclined to keep a close eye on the purse strings, Lizard opts for the cheaper down-market option on the island, which turns out to be conveniently empty, just waiting to be filled by a cast of characters who all happen to have a degree of motive when someone gets bumped off and Lizard gets called in to tackle the case.

The cast of characters, including the murder victim, is largely but not exclusively drawn from the Dynamos, a national league soccer club on an end of season trip (hence Murder in the Off-Season) and as events unfold various players and members of the management group turn out to have justifiable motives for killing star goalie Greg Tudor.

Given the fact that it’s your tropical holiday island version of a standard country house crime scene scenario, as events unfold it turns out that almost every guest at the resort has some sort of motive as well, and part of the enjoyment lies in trying to figure out how this character fits into the jigsaw puzzle.

There’s a little side issue with a worried resort owner who’s sunk all his worldly possessions into the place and Zirk’s rock star status turns out handy when it comes to cutting various corners along the way.

There’s also a wonderful little bit where an Indonesian hotel pharmacist informs Zirk that he’d headlined one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Only U2 and the Bee Gees were better (p. 148), though on second thoughts maybe the Spice Girls and Barry Manilow were up there as well...

All in all it’s an enjoyable enough read though I suspect that on a shelf containing James Lee Burke, his daughter Alafair, Carl Hiassen, John Le Carre, William Least Heat Moon, George Pelecanos, Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson and Hunter S. Thompson when I need an inch and a half of shelf space it may be “Lizard” Zirk who has to go.

© Ian Hughes 2012