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The Shark Net

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  961 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Aged six, Robert Drewe moved with his family from Melbourne to Perth, the world's most isolated city - and proud of it. This sun-baked coast was innocently proud, too, of its tranquillity and friendliness. Then a man he knew murdered a boy he also knew. The murderer randomly killed eight strangers - variously shooting, strangling, stabbing, bludgeoning and hacking his ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published November 28th 2006 by Penguin Australia (first published March 30th 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nick
Jan 23, 2013 Nick rated it liked it
I don't remember very much about this book. I purchased it in a bookstore in Rome, one of the very few books in english they had, and read it while riding trains up through italy, germany, switzerland, and holland.
Outside a coffee shop in venice a young couple from australia saw me reading this and they knew the book. We drank some beers and had a laugh that night and i felt the world a bit smaller and a bit safer and a bit easier to abide.

That being said i remember nothing of the book itself.
Dillwynia Peter
Nov 17, 2015 Dillwynia Peter rated it really liked it
This is a witty, funny and traumatic memoir of Robert Drewe growing up in Perth in the 1950s & 60s. There are some incredibly funny bon mots and turns of phrase that had me cackling in my seat. It is evocative of an Australia that is not more (actually a world that is no more).

Until the iron ore mining boom, Perth was an isolated oversized town on the edge of the continent. Drewe writes: a city of branch managers for companies with head offices over east. And that would sum up the upper busi
...more
Lyn Elliott
Dec 18, 2015 Lyn Elliott rated it really liked it
The Shark Net won three Australian prizes in the year after it was published and was praised highly in reviews by writers such as Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Carey and Jim Crace. A reviewer in The New York Times compared Drewe's Perth to Camus' North Africa - 'blinding in its brightness'.

Drewe conveys the essence of childhood and adolescence in this hot, isolated city, where most outdoor life is lived by the sea or the wide Swan River. He writes economically and creates vivid images of people and
...more
Tony
Jun 27, 2011 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book while living in Perth for just over a year. I loved how it captured the essence of the place, even though it was set many decades in the past. All of the place names were very familiar to me, and much of the story takes place right in the neighborhood that we lived in. Having said that, I do not think this book would have resonated as strongly with me had I not had this personal connection to the setting. The story itself held my interest well enough, but the narrative wasn't ...more
Alexis Mantheakis
Apr 11, 2014 Alexis Mantheakis rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book about the journalist-writer's life in Perth when a friend of his is killed by a person he also knew. A wonderful dissection of the writer's adolescence in what prides itself on being the world's most isolated city. Written with brilliant observations, sharp humour, and great narrative. The book was given to me by a friend who lives in Perth when I visited him last November, my first time in Australia, and I have re-read the book three times already. A really gifted Australian ...more
Felicity
Jan 24, 2010 Felicity rated it really liked it
I saw Robert Drewe speak at a literature conference of a number of authors back in school, and it spurred me on to read this book. Captivating and wonderful-should be considered an Aussie classic.
Ewa
Mar 29, 2015 Ewa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read the first few chapters... then flung the book across the room. That's how good it was.
Rahul Dickstein
Jul 31, 2016 Rahul Dickstein rated it it was ok
This bildungsroman eclipses Drewe's loss of innocence during his childhood in the world's most isolated city; Perth, full of tranquility and friendliness. The first few chapters are very sluggish and slow-moving however soon enough this vibrant and haunting memoir reaches beyond the dark recesses of murder and chaos and can easily spark interest and capture your attention. Juxtaposing to the ordinary suburban backdrop of an innocent Perth, Drewe contrasts the murder grounds of the killer, going ...more
Lucy
Apr 02, 2016 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engagingly written and insightful snapshot of Perth in the 50's and 60's. Finally found a WA book actually about Perth and not set in the country somewhere!
Kelly
Oct 29, 2016 Kelly rated it it was ok
While the writing was great, only a very small part of the book was about the murders, the rest was just a memoir of his life. Disappointing
Teresa Comacchio
Sep 26, 2016 Teresa Comacchio rated it it was ok
In a word: dull.
L.E. Truscott
Apr 04, 2016 L.E. Truscott rated it liked it
This is a book that relies on a fudged blurb to draw readers in. “Aged six, Robert Drewe moved with his family from Melbourne to Perth, the world’s most isolated city – and proud of it. This sun-baked coast was innocently proud, too, of its tranquillity and friendliness. Then a man he knew murdered a boy he also knew.”

The murder happened when the author was already a fully grown man working as a journalist and the boy who was murdered was also fully grown by that stage and about to embark on a v
...more
Laurent
May 14, 2013 Laurent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really great read about growing up in Perth and it's complications

I can somewhat identify with the author of The Shark Net as I moved to Perth at a young age, grew up there and then moved out as soon as I could (but I came back after some years!).

Robert Drewe has written a beautiful memoir about the positives, negatives and challenges about living in one of the most isolated cities on earth. It was unusual for me to actually recognise street names and locations in a novel, since so few good ones
...more
Maureen
Mar 10, 2016 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Wow, this is a surprise packet of a book. I found it on my bookshelf and can't remember buying it, but I clearly did. It is an autobiographical account of Drewe's growing up in Perth 'the most isolated city in the world' during a period in which a serial killer was on the loose for over 5 years. Eight people were killed and others injured over this period, using many different methods including a gun, an axe and running someone down with a car. The killings were in a close geographical area to ...more
Wolfy
Jul 31, 2016 Wolfy rated it really liked it
Shelves: gave-up-on
The Shark Net, By Robert Drewe, is an excellent example, or more accurately a memoir, of 1950s and 1960s Perth. A world as written in the novel no longer exists, where everyone knew each other, scandals would become public quickly, the open-living and everyone would worry about their public appearance.

A significant aspect of this novel is Drewe's close relationship to the killer. Robert knew the man full well, working for his father and bringing in furniture to Robert's house, and how the event
...more
Kelly Dunagan
Drewe builds an evocative portrayal of a boyhood in mid-century Perth, and though there is some weirdness (mostly in the figure of his company-man father, a rabidly loyal employee of Dunlop Rubber), for the most part the depicted childhood is almost aggressively normal. It's a study of a developing city, of a childhood spent digging tunnels in sand and picking at the crumbling, sandy foundations of the new suburban houses. It's a scrupulously-drawn vision of a certain time and place. But ...more
Margaret Moon
Jul 11, 2014 Margaret Moon rated it liked it
The Shark Net did bring back aspects of my childhood though I grew up on the east coast, not the west. In our book club we speculated that the motivation behind the book was his relationship with his mother. Perhaps Robert Drewe wrote the book to clarify the circumstances of his mother's death. He reports the comments made by his father and family doctor that he was perhaps culpable in some way in such an offhand way. The book certainly drew the small town nature of Perth in the 1960s and 70s ...more
Michelle
Dec 08, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable and entertaining read, especially if you know anything about Perth in the 60's.
A real nostalgia trip for those who lived through that era.... Combined with the terror of the Eric Cooke years.
A bit before my time.... but enjoyable anyway.

I felt it petered out slightly...... I always enjoy the childhood years of memoirs more than anything else. Their lives get dull and responsible. Just like ours. The carefree childhood years, when the decisions of adults are incomprehensible, are always
...more
Saskia
Oct 05, 2011 Saskia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
I thoroughly enjoyed Drewe's humour above all else in The Shark Net. I often found myself laughing out loud to myself and when reading it aloud in class. The casual, non-linear style added to my enjoyment of the book, and the underlying serial murders offer a great insight into the community where Drewe grew up in the 1960s. The Shark Net has hidden layers, just as does the beautifully painted 1960s Perth, offering not only an entertaining, witty read, but also a serious literary text on the dea ...more
Larry Schlesinger
Apr 01, 2013 Larry Schlesinger rated it it was amazing
The Shark Net did not disappoint, even though the murders and murderer play a relatively small (but important and binding) part in the plotline of the book.

It begins with Drewe, a young whipper snapper journalist on the Western Australian newspaper attending the trial of the murderer, but then goes back to tell of the story of his family’s move across the country from Melbourne to Perth, a journey that in 1949 took 12 hours by plane with refuelling stops at Adelaide and Kalgoorlie.

Please read my
...more
Sharon
Jul 29, 2011 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: loved-this-one
I've known of this books existance for many years, but had never got around to reading it until now.

A great book, based in my home town, it is intresting to read of events in the time that my mother would have been hearing of them and living them.

I love that the author knew people involved in the crimes, and the insight to the way people thought at the time (a child born out of wedlock, is more shocking than a couple commiting audultry??) is facinating.

Love the book, anyone from Perth West Austr
...more
Lucynell
I found this a bit hard to read, mainly because of its 'rough' pacing and whiteout bleakness, which both surprised me some when i found the writer spent time as a journalist. But i gave it my usual 50-60 pages and a little more and by then it seemed to smooth out. There is a hovering menace and an underlying threat throughout the story and at 350 some pages long it's enough to keep you close, but sadly considerably detached. I have a feeling i may revisit this one sometime in the distant future.
Calzean
A memoir of Drewe's life in Perth from the age of 6 till he leaves just as he turns 21.

Drewe paints a sunny, warm and sandy picture of the climate and geography of the most remote city in the world. Drewe's father is a Branch Manager in a city of Branch Managers.

Funny in parts, a good insight into life in Perth in the 1950s and 60s where the book revolves around a series of murders where Drewe finds he knows the murderer, some of the victims and most of the locations.

Enjoyable.
Calvin Taylor
Dec 15, 2014 Calvin Taylor rated it liked it
A sensitive and honest reflection on a childhood in Perth, Western Australia. The narrative is saturated with the sand, sea and gossip of suburban life during the 50s through 70s. The serial murderer tale is woven intricately throughout the story. It's clear what Drewe is attempting to do in this piece, though the symbolism of the 'shark net' and montage of experiences setting up a kind of social-bildungsroman; still it does feel somewhat laboured at times. A worthwhile read.
Felix
Mar 04, 2013 Felix rated it liked it
I read this in school and didn't find it particularly interesting. I suspect my dislike for my then English teacher may have been the reason for this and this lead me to forget about the book for a few years. That was until, while in Perth one summer, I decided to visit Rottnest Island myself. I found myself remembering the only part of the book I had really liked: the writer's (very accurate) recount of the almost mystical, sexual aura of Rottnest Island.
TC
Jul 25, 2012 TC rated it it was ok
i enjoyed reading about Perth and its environs....mainly because I used to live in Perth in the 70's so I knew the EXACT places he was talking ab out, and the mentality of the isolated sand gropers....so that was a trip down memory lane.....some of the book was fun....but mostly it was a bit boring, and you kept waiting for something to happen.....i would not recommend it to anyone who has no link to WA.....
Nicole Naunton
Jul 24, 2010 Nicole Naunton rated it really liked it
It was interesting to experience growing up in the 50s and 60s - and i'm glad i didn't grow up in the "good old days". very interesting to learn some history of perth and western australia. A good book to take on holidays. I enjoyed this memoir more than i enjoyed robert drewe's novel, the bodysurfers.
Chelsea
Dec 29, 2012 Chelsea rated it liked it
I liked this novel, but probably more when I studied it at school.

There is a lot of symbolism, and some would argue it is too heavy, but I think the memoir has a lot of richness to it, and is very relatable in many ways.

Plus, a lot of my knowledge of growing up in Perth comes from this novel (which is probably not too accurate).
Dennis
Sep 26, 2012 Dennis rated it liked it
The book is good, not great. One thing I will say, if you're from Western Australia, there is no way that you are giving this book less than three stars. If you're from WA, you can relate to the area, the weather, the people and the general feel. It is a step back in time for this very esoteric part of the world.
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Robert Drewe is among Australia’s most loved writers – of novels, memoir and short stories. His iconic Australian books include The Shark Net, The Bodysurfers and Our Sunshine. He is also editor of Black Inc.’s Best Australian Stories annual series. Recently, he has revisited the short story himself, with a masterful new collection, The Rip. Jo Case spoke to him for Readings about storytelling.
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“It always gave me a peculiar feeling to catch a glimpse of my parents' lives before I was born.” 4 likes
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