Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Marmalade Files (Harry Dunkley, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Marmalade Files (Harry Dunkley, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Marmalade Files (Harry Dunkley #1)

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  245 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
When seasoned newshound Harry Dunkley is slipped a compromising photograph one frosty Canberra dawn he knows he's onto something big. In pursuit of the scoop, Dunkley must negotiate the deadly corridors of power where the minority Toohey Government hangs by a thread – its stricken Foreign Minister on life support, her heart maintained by a single thought. Revenge.

Rabid Rot
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by HarperCollins
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Marmalade Files, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Marmalade Files

Down Under by Bill BrysonTrue History of the Kelly Gang by Peter CareyCloudstreet by Tim WintonJoe Cinque's Consolation, A True Story of Death, Grief and th... by Helen GarnerPicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Australia In Words
63rd out of 212 books — 37 voters
The Wife Drought by Annabel CrabbJerusalem by Yotam OttolenghiBel Canto by Ann PatchettMen Explain Things to Me by Rebecca SolnitI Saw a Man by Owen Sheers
Chat 10 Looks 3 Reading List
45th out of 74 books — 4 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Latika Bourke
Aug 11, 2012 Latika Bourke rated it really liked it
Since the election of Kevin Rudd it’s often refrained about national politics that ‘you couldn’t make this shit up;’ but it turns out you can as Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis demonstrate with their laugh-out-loud novel The Marmalade Files.
Part thriller but mostly satire, Marmalade Files is a deliciously fun look at Australian politics and the characters of Canberra.
Marmalade’s protagonists are easily identifiable caricatures of current political figures. The dumped-Prime-Minister-now-Foreign-M
I wanted to love this book. And I did love some of it. I loved that the first couple of pages had the phone number that popped up on my phone every time Dad called me from work, as someone was calling the protagonist from his Department. That the protagonist drove down the foggy dirt road along LBG that I pass every morning on the way to work. That he goes and gets his hangover coffee from the cafe I used to deliver bread to at my old job at uni (and hated the people). That he has a secret meeti ...more
Aug 17, 2015 Liza rated it liked it
Quite an enjoyable satirical thriller set in the political milieu of Canberra. A political journalist is given a photograph by a mysterious contact. The quest to uncover the meaning of the photograph and who is behind its leaking reveals a web of relationships that span the world and a group determined to defend the US/Australian alliance at all costs. Peopled by characters who are recognisably based on real politicians with situations which also resemble recent political events, the novel is wr ...more
Annette Chidzey
Jun 08, 2015 Annette Chidzey rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this novel but not quite as much as The Mandarin Code. I suspect this was because I read this one after the Mandarin Code not having realised it existed and preceded it. Having established that understanding, the novel was still one that enabled clear connections to the Australian political scene and resonated with my strong interest in domestic politics and international relations. Where we sit as an alleged mediator and so called middle power between the USA and the Peoples Republic ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Wendy rated it really liked it
Loved the Canberra scenery. The barely veiled characters are hilarious
Sep 25, 2014 Jillwilson rated it liked it
The real Marmalade Files" are not an ASIS "dirt file", but “merely a collection of humorous, often risqué and sometimes downright bizarre communications kept by our early diplomats for no reason other than their amusement value.” ( This article, ‘The Marmalade Files: DFAT's cabinet of curiosities’ is worth a read for some of the bizarre examples of what is kept in the files.

Here’s an example: “An account by our man in Manila, KCO "Mick" Shann, about a lun
My first thought on finishing this book was I wonder what Kevin Rudd would think of this book.

Although clearly a work of fiction there are several blatant similarities to real world events, so it sometimes feels like this story is only slightly removed from reality.

Catriona Bailey is clearly based on Kevin Rudd, a nerdy Labor PM beloved by the public, knifed by her own party who becomes Foreign Minister and wants nothing more than to return to the top spot or bring the entire party crashing dow
Apr 29, 2013 Karen rated it it was amazing
One of the biggest problems with the blanding out of Australian Federal politics and society is that Political Satire seems to have disappeared around the back, probably mugged by some idiot with a bias obsession. Well that is until THE MARMALADE FILES where I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to finally find something to laugh about coming out of Canberra. In an amused way, not that panicked titter that escapes when you realise that the idiot on the telly who just said what they said m ...more
Sep 20, 2016 Bec74 rated it it was ok
The pros: Interesting (if somewhat depressing) insights into Canberra politics & politicians.

The cons: Badly written. Long swathes of Murdoch tabloid-style rants against the left, the Greens, armchair activism, inner-city elites, etc. Very obvious (thinly veiled) use of real people as the basis for most of the characters left me wondering if this so-called work of fiction was an attempt to expose accusations they did not have the proof to publish as journalism. Or did they simply lack the im
Aug 24, 2012 Harinder rated it really liked it
I loved this book. If you live in Canberra and are an "inside the beltway" person like me, and work the odd 80-hour week, it's the perfect book. I chuckled and giggled all the way through it. It is so irreverent I can't believe that it ever got through the defamation lawyers. The story is a light political thriller set in Canberra in 2011, among a government which scarily resembles the current one. I particularly loved the jabs at the Greens and at the lobby group GetSet! And of course the entir ...more
Dec 06, 2014 Sunnie rated it liked it
Marmalade Files is a jolly crime romp through Canberra. The Labor Government is teetering on the brink of disaster with the slimmest of margins when their much loathed Foreign Minister collapses face down during a Lateline interview. She's been poisoned which creates even more nightmares for the PM. The Liberals aren't faring much better. What should be a slam dunk for the upcoming Federal election has turned into a close race with two very strong willed women locked in battle for the Liberal pa ...more
Jun 09, 2016 Elina added it
I picked this up when I realised it was the inspiration for the TV miniseries The Secret City, and I enjoyed the premiere episode of that so much that I couldn't wait for more. As a political thriller, this really delivers. It is fast paced, and keeps the suspense building so you can't help but devour it as quickly as possible. The added level of fun is laughing along as Lewis & Uhlmann satirise everyone in Australian politics, spotting the real life inspiration behind this cast of extraordi ...more
Peter Anderson
You can tell this book was written by political journalists; there's just too much detail. There are more than FIFTY characters, I had to start counting in case they were going to be important later in the book - SPOILER ALERT, they aren't!

The plot has vague references to recent politics in Australia with the sexes of the main players reversed. But for this book it's just too disjointed and constantly flip-flops around.

The authors a both journalist of some note. This book proves the old adage th
Apr 02, 2015 Kirsten rated it liked it
Definitely a fun read for those who have followed Australian politics over the last few years. So much fact mixed with fiction, it was a treat guessing who the characters were all based on. In my head we ended up with a meeting of the minds quasi romance between MT and JG! The authors, political journalists themselves had such scope to take the mickey out of, and often sympathise with some of the major players in politics at the time. It was also nice to see Canberra featured, but at the end of ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Jen rated it it was ok
Airport fiction filled with many very thinly veiled versions of current and recent Australian politicians and hangers-on (like the Rudd character, who just won't die). Often the narrative feels like it's just stringing together various pub adecdotes and insider gossip. Wildly critical of the Greens and GetUp ("GetSet! was an online activist organisation. It rarely identified an original issue or put effort into a need that wasn't already on the political radar. No, that demanded spending real ti ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-as-ebook
I enjoyed this book. Not too demanding, fun, engaging and very wry. It would especially appeal to anyone who's lived in Canberra for its copious references to local quirks and nuances. The book covers the story of Harry Dunkley, a journalist for The Australian, who exposes political manipulation and scandal, with significant parallels to reality. The style of writing and story reminded me a little of the Murray Whelan stories by Shane Maloney. I was pleased that the ending was left open for mor ...more
Oct 07, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015, fiction
A fun, easy read that is so much more enjoyable than my bookshelf of half-read books on real Australian politics... maybe this one, with all its (barely, slightly) embellished ridiculous events is more real than the others after all.

Going, within a fortnight, from three Orhan Pamuk's in a row to Richard Flanagan to Michael Chabon, to this... well it's a refreshingly light read that i got through in 24 hours.

Looking forward to reading the next one from these two.
Jul 03, 2015 Malise rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book partly because I live in the city in which it was set and know the places, the coffee shops even some of the people and many of the types described in this book. It is an interesting twist on the political events of the last ten years in this country viewed from conservative and liberal points of view. I had several good laughs while reading it.
Aug 18, 2016 Russell rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyable Australian satirical political thriller by a couple of political journalists. Fascinating look at the Aussie federal system, and frequently laugh out loud funny. Illustrates that in politics the picture is the same, even though the frame is different. It is the source for the Aussie TV series "Secret City".
Ruth Bonetti
Oct 09, 2012 Ruth Bonetti rated it really liked it
Given the parlous state of Australian federal politics, this was light therapy to read a spoof from two insider journos. Or is it? I won't spoil the twist at the end but it is satisfying yet tantalising - do these guys know more than is allowed out into the public domain? An easy read, witty and at last a chance to laugh at our messy, bitchy political situation.
Sep 23, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it
I loved this one and hope that Lewis and Uhllman have a sequel on the way. I so want to find out what Kevin - I mean Baily is up to. If you follow Australian politics as a spectator sport then this book is for you. I enjoyed trying to match real-world characters with the players in this story. Lots of laughs, cheeky boys.
Newtown Review of Books
Feb 02, 2013 Newtown Review of Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
In a political world that contains all the strange twists of, say, the James Ashby/Peter Slipper case, or the Malcolm Turnbull/Godwin Grech imbroglio, how could fiction possibly top reality? Isn’t politics weird enough without making it even more so?

Read full review here:
Peter Lees
Jun 12, 2015 Peter Lees rated it really liked it
A book for the local audience. To get the nuances and political context it helps to be Australian and live in or know Canberra particularly well. I enjoyed the book and look forward to the story continuing. There is much fodder to be had with our current Liberal Government.
Yvette Adams
Jan 15, 2015 Yvette Adams rated it liked it
I read this for the 2015 reading challenge - this one was "a book set in your home town". Well, my home for the last 20 years - Canberra. This was OK but a bit too political for my liking. And it ended pretty abruptly!
Aug 31, 2016 Sam rated it liked it
Shelves: i-books
An enjoyable read, light enough for the plane yet interesting enough to keep the pages turning. Certainly for Australian readers, there will be plenty of moments when you wonder - "did this really happen?"
Colleen Nielsen
Chris Uhllman and Steve Lewis have the makings of being very good STORY tellers - ah.....the goings on of our politicians!
Jun 04, 2016 DaniW added it
My 2013 review is at Dinner at Caphs:

The Marmalade Files
Sep 07, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it
A good fun, light read. The two writers have clearly seen and heard it all in Canberra and seem to have enjoyed using fiction as a medium to get a few things off their chests.
Kirsten Boud
Nov 15, 2012 Kirsten Boud rated it liked it

A light hearted political romp that could have been more. Disappointed at how the authors wrapped it up so quickly and neatly, but overall, a good read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Holiday Murders
  • Beams Falling
  • Resurrection Bay (Caleb Zelic, #1)
  • Crucifixion Creek (The Belltree Trilogy, #1)
  • Nice Try (Murray Whelan, #3)
  • One Boy Missing
  • If I Tell You... I'll Have to Kill You
  • St Kilda Blues (Charlie Berlin, #3)
  • A Decline in Prophets (Rowland Sinclair #2)
  • The Lying-Down Room
  • Chain of Evidence (Inspector Challis, #4)
  • Gunshot Road (Emily Tempest, #2)
  • Fall
  • Prime Cut
Steve Lewis has been reporting politics in Canberra since 1992 and has survived the near collapse of the Fairfax media group, three Prime Ministers, Mark Latham and a career switch from The Financial Review to the News Ltd tabloids.
More about Steve Lewis...

Other Books in the Series

Harry Dunkley (3 books)
  • The Mandarin Code (Harry Dunkley, #2)
  • The Shadow Game

Share This Book

“Because in the passion of the moment he had made one small but significant slip … he had meant to say ‘vegetarian’. And he was desperately trying to remember if vegans ate cheese.” 0 likes
“In the world of twenty-four-hour news, what was happening was often secondary to ‘being there’.” 0 likes
More quotes…