Black and Neal Take Noir Down Under

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Wednesday March 22 2017

By Matt Neal

As of March 23, I can walk into any good bookshop in Scotland and pick up a copy of Bay of Martyrs, the new Australian-set crime thriller I co-wrote with former Highland Times journalist Tony Black.

Unfortunately, as I live in Australia (where the book isn’t released), I won’t be perusing the shelves of any Scottish stores any time soon (last time I visited Scotland was in 2009 and I’m still paying for it).

So how did a lowly Aussie like me end up as an “international crime writer” with a Scottish publishing deal for a book set in south-east Australia?

A lot of the credit must go to my good friend Mr Black.

Ever since we started working together about 15 years ago at a newspaper in Warrnambool (where Bay of Martyrs is set), we’ve talked about writing books and someday penning a novel together.

After Tony returned to Scotland, we stayed in touch, catching up every few years.

Eventually he became a leading exponent in “tartan noir” (I love that term).

He dedicated one of his early novels to me - ain’t that sweet?

The impetus to write Bay of Martyrs came when my wife got pregnant.

As you all know, growing a human inside you sucks up a lot of energy, so with my wife hitting the hay early each night, I was left with time on my hands I didn’t want to squander on video games or lengthy YouTube sessions.

I messaged Tony and, bam, Bay of Martyrs was born.

Less than 18 months later, courtesy of the fine folk at Freight Books, it’s now in Scottish (and English and Irish) bookstores.

It’s the kind of story you’ll love if you’re into crime thrillers.

It’s about a plucky, down-on-his-luck journalist and an eager photographer (don’t call her a sidekick) who team up to investigate the death of a girl who washes up at the Bay of Martyrs, which is real beach less than an hours drive from where I live.

Throw in some dodgy politicians, some crooked cops, and some sexual tension, and kapow, you’ve got some “Aussie noir”, as one reviewer dubbed it.

While my Aussie friends have read their internet-bought copies and enjoyed seeing the local sights described in the printed word, you lucky Scots will be able to read it all with the fresh eyes of the tourist.

It will probably seem exotic, especially if you’ve never visited the Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool, Port Fairy or Koroit.

Our aim was to keep it real.

So as you follow our hero, Warrnambool journalist Clay Moloney (write what you know) around south-west Victoria, you’re being led past actual buildings and places you could one day visit.

Come in the summer.

You’ll love it.

So pick up your copy and then book a trip to Warrnambool, Australia.

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