Knockabout vocabulary and larrikin lingo get a laconically lyrical workout in Bryan Brown’s SWEET JIMMY, seven stories of the unsavoury, the unsaved and salvation of sorts.

Written in a style not so much staccato as terse, SWEET JIMMY is not engorged by the gift of the gab but the gift of curt crispness, no buggering around with embroidering thought, speech or action. Nothing superfluous.

Most of the stories are concerned with the criminal milieu and the star of such notable Australian crime capers as Two Hands and Old School successfully and succinctly enters the murky waters of murder, mayhem and revenge.

The collection is book-ended with the tale of Jimmy Quigley, an electrician with a shocking predilection. He’s the Sweet Jimmy of this compendium’s title. He and his cousin share a colourful past and ever darkening present.

There’s crazy comedy in the multicultural mixing pot that comprises contemporary Sydney, especially in the laugh out loud The Tea-Leaf.

And there is the aching anguish of a parent losing a child and his search for answers in Be Not Afraid and the prodigal Good Samaritan yarn of Vigilante.

Not exactly ocker noir, SWEET JIMMY sustains its style throughout except for a deviation into a cabin in the woods type tale of an Aussie couple fighting for survival in an American backwater. It is appropriately titled Nightmare.

SWEET JIMMY reminds one that Brown had a hand in the Twisted Tales television series and this anthology would no doubt suit a seven part series in that vein.

Until then, enjoy dipping into the source material. Cast your eyes over the stories and start your casting. It’ll make lock-down just that more bearable.

SWEET JIMMY by Bryan Brown is published by Allen & Unwin

Featured image: Author Bryan Brown

Richard Cotter