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By the author of the acclaimed Line of Sight, Zero at the Bone lifts the lid on Perth at the start of the mining boom to show a town where Chinatown meets Underbelly, and where the establishment and the lawless blend into one.

'Full of crooked cops, corrupt politicians and rapacious mining companies ... I really enjoyed Zero at the Bone.' Michael Robotham

For ex-detective Frank Swann, being on the outside of Western Australia's police force is the only way to get justice done.

Perth in 1979 is a city of celebration and corruption. There are street parties, official glad-handing – even a royal visit – to commemmorate a century and a half since colonisation. But behind the festivities a new kind of land grab is going on, this time for mining leases. The price of gold is up, and few are incorruptible before its lure.

When Swann is hired to probe the suicide of a well-regarded geologist, he's drawn into a mire of vice and fraud that has at its heart a lust for wealth that verges on a disease ...

By the author of the acclaimed Line of Sight, Zero at the Bone lifts the lid on Perth at the start of the mining boom to show a town where Chinatown meets Underbelly, and where the establishment and the lawless blend into one.

'Has all the economy, pace, unexpected humour and local colour we've come to expect from David Whish-Wilson. Highly recommended.' Adrian McKinty


The plot is unexpected and intriguing, the action intense, but best of all is Whish-Wilson's ability to draw characters so familiar they could be next-door neighbours. Beautifully written ... An absorbing read and thoroughly recommended if you love a great story. You won't want to put this one down until the very last page.

West Australian

A tightly plotted, well-textured story of shady figures contesting a lease at the beginning of the mining boom ... Whish-Wilson's characterisation is strong. The story is something of a humdinger too, fast-paced, complex and with some excellent twists ... Quality crime.

Ed Wright, Weekend Australian

Zero at the Bone delivers on a whole series of levels. There's puzzle solving, a bit of good old-fashioned detecting, a great sense of place and time and a solid dose of common sense at the heart of much of the investigation. There's also a resolution that plays out in a rather surprising but somehow completely apt manner. The central character is an attractive lone wolf, with a strong Australian identity, and the time frame of the late 1970s is perfectly drawn. All in all there's a great deal to like about Zero at the Bone.

Newtown Review of Books

Whish-Wilson's prose is muscular and spartan, propelling the reader through pages like a baby on a catapult.

Stephen Pollock, Perth Voice

A gritty and utterly absorbing read ... A wonderful snapshot of a particular point in time, complete with daggy cars, long lunches and dodgy entrepreneurs. I'll be going back for more.

Maryanne Hyde, Good Reading

Classic crime noir ... Frank Swann is a flawed but sympathetic anti-hero whose experience has fostered a jaundiced view of government, power, and the law. A cynical idealist, he knows that his society is corrupt, but continues to hold a belief in justice ... Swann seems destined to return.

Wendy Were, Australian Book Review

The tone of a hard-boiled detective novel with a distinctly Australian twist ... Entertaining, gritty and provocative ... I am sure Frank Swann will be back and I'm looking forward to it.

Book'd Out

An intense and distinctive sense of place ... A deep concern with the integrity of those who administer law and order ... The novel's final twist sees some very satisfying come-uppancing.

Katharine England, The Advertiser (Adelaide)

Some of the most exciting crime fiction in Australia at the moment is coming out of the West ... If you want proof, look no further than Zero at the Bone ... A riveting crime story ... Taut and lyrical.

Andrew Nette, Crime Factory

Highly recommended.

South Coast Register

A distinctly Australian yet all-consuming crime fiction novel that grips the reader from page one and demands attention through to its violent conclusion ... David Whish-Wilson is a force to be reckoned with.


A brilliant crime/detective thriller with a strong sense of place and time. It's gripping, written in a sparse, exciting manner and will both surprise and intrigue you ... An excellent and entertaining novel that crime fans will devour.

Debbie Phillips, The Chronicle (Toowoomba)

Excellent ... Unexpected and intriguing ... You won't put this one down until the very last page.

Farm Weekly

Satisfying turns [hold] narrative interest in a complex plot ... This heavily researched and painstaking attention to detail skilfully captures the essence of Perth in the late 1970s and bodes well for Whish Wilson.


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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    August 21, 2013


    288 pages

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    August 21, 2013

    Penguin eBooks

    288 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
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    • Google Play EBook AU
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    • eBooks

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