Review: “Dog City” (2014) by Matthew Asprey


dog city2

Matthew Asprey’s latest novella, Dog City (2014), published entirely within Issue 16 of Crime Factory, is a gem. More poignant than some of his earlier works, but with the same peripatetic gusto, it follows the hapless character Finch, a jazz enthusiast who’s down on his luck and has returned to the anaemic, one-horse town he grew up in, Rabensford, in Western Australia. Befriending Lawan, a Thai tourist lacking a Visa and sporting blue dreads, much to the amusement of the town’s residents, Finch attempts to leave the town as soon as possible to get to Broome, but it’s not so easy: he’s on the run from the Perth mafia, who have tracked him down, and discovers that an old friend has more power over the depleted town of Rabensford than he would have guessed. Filled with the usual eye for detail that is characteristic of all of Asprey’s novellas, a colourful array of three-dimensional characters appear in Finch’s hometown, some hilarious, some horrendous, and he keeps bumping into figures from his past. But Finch is adamant- he isn’t there for a family reunion, and he is hardly nostalgic. He’s dragged into some pretty outrageous circumstances, and incurs the wrath of the local police and the mobsters. But there’s heart to this story. Amidst the corruption Finch, who owes about $30,000 in debts to all sorts of vile miscreants, emerges as sort of unlikely hero, who boasts the only moral compass in town. Armed with only his Datsun, some jazz cassettes and a conscience, Finch not only intends to escape town but is set to make a few changes as well. A curious blend of Wake in Fright and Red Harvest, Asprey explores small-town life and police corruption; the city becomes a central character, infecting all of its inhabitants in a similar manner to Hammett’s Personville (Poisonville), and interweaves sex, guilt, money, violence, and heroism. The end result is a curious misadventure that offers surprising insights into one’s past and the desire to escape it. It leaves you with the message that if you’re going to survive in a city like this, it takes guts.

Purchase your copy (hardback in better) either at Crime Factory or Amazon.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s