Lizzy Chandler's Reviews > The Old School

The Old School by P.M. Newton
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it was amazing
bookshelves: aww-challenge, crime
Recommended for: Lovers of quality crime fiction

This book is outstanding in so many ways.

The language - I kept having to stop and write down one-liners, so superb is Newton's command of prose.

The setting - a careful rendering of Sydney unlike any I've read. It is so refreshing to read a book of the city one has grown up in that is so finely evoked in terms of place, weather, character and idiom. Newton mentions many things I can identify with, from reference to the man made of tyres along Sydney Road as one drives down to Manly (long gone, probably), to the waterfront of Greenwich Point with its oil terminal - and also places I'm not so intimately familiar with, like the multicultural suburbs of the south-west.

The characters: I found the protagonist's personal life absorbing, her mixed Irish-Vietnamese background disconcerting (brave of Newton to portray this cross-cultural perspective), and her relationships with others complex, nuanced and believable.

Plot: who cares, when you have all these other things so superbly drawn? But the plot was fascinating. It managed to weave in so many aspects of Sydney life, cultural, historical, political and personal.

Pace: This was a page-turner, but not a fast read. I was absorbed and found myself staying up late (and once waking up at 3am and reaching for the book). At the end, I wanted to finish - because in some ways I found the topic exhausting and confronting, but at the same time I didn't want my journey with the characters to end.

Don't just take my word for it. The Old School has attracted well-deserved rave reviews, including a couple by participants in the #AWW2012 Reading & Reviewing Challenge. Fast paced plot deserves measured considered read, review by Yvonne Perkins and The Old School reviewed by Walter Masson. Apparently it has been nominated for a prize?
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Reading Progress

January 1, 2012 – Started Reading
January 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
January 30, 2012 – Shelved
January 30, 2012 – Shelved as: aww-challenge
January 30, 2012 – Shelved as: crime

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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message 1: by Liz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liz Great to see such a lovely review of one of my favourite books of 2010! I've been thinking about rereading it myself for the purpose of the AWW challenge, since the sequel will hopefully be out soon.


Lizzy Chandler Liz wrote: "Great to see such a lovely review of one of my favourite books of 2010! I've been thinking about rereading it myself for the purpose of the AWW challenge, since the sequel will hopefully be out soon."

Thanks, Liz. I didn't know the next one goes on from this. I'm not surprised though as she has drawn such a great detective character and therer's room to move and cover a lot of social history given the time frame (which I forgot to mention is set back in the 90s).


message 3: by Deborah (new) - added it

Deborah Biancotti You've convinced me! I often hold off on books with a Sydney setting because I find them too self-conscious, stylised or just WRONG! Now I can't wait to read this book.


Lizzy Chandler Deborah wrote: "You've convinced me! I often hold off on books with a Sydney setting because I find them too self-conscious, stylised or just WRONG! Now I can't wait to read this book."

I'll be fascinated to hear your reaction to the book, Deborah. Which books have you read whose setting has irked you, just out of interest? Your impressions would make a fascinating article for the AWW blog - especially if you can come up with some examples (like Newton's, I hope) where an AWW gets it right! Does the idea interest you? Wouldn't have to be long, if you're busy...


message 5: by Deborah (new) - added it

Deborah Biancotti Elizabeth wrote: "Wouldn't have to be long, if you're busy..."

Hmm, let me think on that...


message 6: by Shelleyrae (new) - added it

Shelleyrae at Book'd Out Great review and a book I definitely want to read!


Lizzy Chandler Thanks, Shelleyrae. Can't wait for her next one.


message 8: by Helene (last edited Feb 15, 2012 03:51AM) (new)

Helene Young PM Newton has finely crafted her characters and they stayed with me long after I finished the book. I read it because I was on a panel with Pam at the Sisters In Crime Convention late last year. Through that panel I also discover, YA Erskine's book The Brotherhood. Both of them are riveting reads.

Thanks for another great review, Elizabeth.


Lizzy Chandler booktothefuture wrote: "Oh - this sounds really good. Reading everyone's AWW2012 reviews is very, very bad news for my TBR pile..."

You're not kidding! I'm doing so much work behind the scenes with booksellers I'm not getting enough time for my reading. I've had to take several books back to the library unread. Lucky we have all year. But this one is a stand-out recommendation, like Dog Boy which I've yet to review.

I just finished Past the Shallows, too, and others have given that 5 stars. I haven't made up my mind completely about that - but mostly for non-reading related issues, which I may write about. But for any lover of crime - and Sydney - The Old School's a must.


Lizzy Chandler Helene wrote: "PM Newtons has finely crafted her characters and they stayed with me long after I finished the book. I read it because I was on a panel with Pam at the Sisters In Crime Convention late last year. T..."

Lucky you! I've tweeted with Pam and learned how much went into writing her book for her Masters - real dedication to her craft. YA Erskine's The Brotherhood is on my To Be Read pile and I have my own copy. I've heard great things about it - and Nicole Watson's The Boundary. Funny how I keep gravitating towards crime and suspense (like yours, Helene), but I'm trying to read othe genres, too.


Simone Great review Elizabeth, this sounds like a fabulous book. I'll have to look out for it.


Lizzy Chandler Thanks, Simone, it is a brilliant book. Well worth hunting down.


message 13: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Sharp Sounds like a fascinating book.


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