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Winner of the 2017 Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime. Sydney's shame: Up to 80 men murdered, 30 cases remain unsolved.

From 1977 to the end of 1986, Duncan McNab was a member of the NSW Police Force. Most of his service was in criminal investigation. The many unsolved deaths and disappearances of young gay men are the crimes that continue to haunt him.

Around 80 men died or disappeared in NSW from the late 70s to early 90s during an epidemic of gay-hate crimes. The line between a vicious assault and murder is a slender one and this was a time of brutal attacks on gay men, featuring gangs of young thugs like the 'Parkside Killers' and 'Bondi Boys', who took to the growing gay rights community with fists and feet.

Even more troubling are incidents in which gay men disappeared and have never been found, or where deaths were initially dismissed by the NSW Police as either misadventure or suicide. We now know that a number of these men were hunted down by gangs and thrown over beachside cliffs near the nation’s top tourist spots.

Investigation of crimes against gay men wasn’t always high on the list of priorities for the police and over twenty years later they are still slow to come to grips with their own dismal track record. The families of the victims, and some journalists, have not given up and continue to push the NSW Police Force for more answers.

This book is the story of a unique time in our history when social change, politics, devastating disease and police culture collided, and you could get away with murder.


Former policeman McNab opened the casebook on up to 80 murders of gay men in Sydney from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, 30 of which are still unsolved. 'With his comprehensive inside knowledge, he ties these crimes together and paints a chilling picture of an ingrained culture of gay bashing.

Australian Crime Writers Association

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    January 30, 2017

    Vintage Australia

    320 pages

    RRP $34.99

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  • EBook


    January 30, 2017

    Random House Australia

    320 pages

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Just before midnight in the summer of 1981, an anonymous male made a call to the emergency line 000 from a public telephone box. He’d found an unconscious man in the men’s toilet at the Collaroy Surf Club, but he didn’t wait around for the emergency services to arrive.

First on the scene was an ambulance crew from nearby Narrabeen, who found a man in his late ?fties face-down in the drain hole at the centre of the stainless-steel trough that lined one wall of the toilet. He was amid the beads that unsuccessfully tried to mask the smell of urine and provided target practice for generations of boys. The usual grate that covered the drain hole was missing, and the man’s face was torn by the rough welds where the trough met the drainpipe. What was immedi­ately apparent was that the man had been viciously assaulted. There was damage to the back of his head and neck caused by repeated blows, and probably broken ?ngers. His breathing was ragged. The ambulance of?cers called for police assistance and acted quickly and carefully to extricate the man and take him to the emergency unit at Mona Vale District Hospital, just under six kilometres away.

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Awards and Recognition

  • Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime
    Joint winner
    Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime