The Sequel to The Fifth Estate
Committing hubris of the highest order, author of The Fifth Estate, Terence McLernon again uses his skills and knowledge as a former police officer and private investigator to expose the hi-jinx of low-life business operators. The still-intact police culture by which corruption has become ingrained in our society has permeated all levels of business and politics. Even the excesses and sexual brutalities of a feckless Catholic brotherhood remain unpunished.
Yet it is not without wry humour that Mr McLernon runs his quizzical eye over the cast of characters. The gems of the Fat Wallet Mob meet the light of day. Political ineptitude races neck and neck with judicial blindness and police razzmatazz.
Men in Panama Hats strive to get business moving against otherwise immovable bureaucratic inertia. Ho's go north for a working holiday via special police permits and the barriers to raising a quick $10 million are blasted aside.
Just another day in the life of a gumshoe writer.
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THE AIR TERMINAL BUILDING WAS SHIMMERING in the heat wave, and I was grateful that in my new Charlie 88 there were life-saving devices such as air-con. My car was nothing like the original Charlie 88, where I had been blooded in the crafty intrigues of that specialist squad - the Criminal Investigation Branch, or CIB. The original Charlie 88 was the squad car of which I had been the driver for a crew of reprobates and characters who preserved the peace and laws around the frisky port city of Fremantle. She had been a tired looking old tart back then, ragged around the trims, make-up askew with dust instead of rouge and a dent or two where a smoother curve had once attracted attention. In short, she was fairly bent, as were a great proportion of those who sailed in her. She was Charlie 88, the majestic conveyance of the local peelers.
It is now years later. Times, suits and cars have changed. But nothing has altered the power exerted across the community by the shysters, shylocks, hucksters and shoofty scoundrels of the Fifth Estate. That was the phrase I had coined to describe the secretive and selfish cabal of crooked cops, shifty lawyers, fearsome hacks and feckless judges. They combined with re-badged corrupt ex-cops masquerading as Private Inquiry agents, who provided the essential conduit for cash and favours between the indestructible miscreants who ran the shadowy government of the New Estate. It was the government inside the soft glove of public governance.
THE TELLING OF THE OBSCENE ANTICS of the Fat Wallet Mob is not easy because it blends the foul conduct of bullies with the often-comic antics of bit players around them. Sometimes the details are shocking as to how the lowlife’s of our society feed parasitically upon innocent investors and business people, then, when threatened with exposure, lash out at whatever they see as the weakest links. They use fiscal threats, restraining orders, writs for damages and every legalistic device, known to el shonko lawyers, to tie up the assets of their enemies. They target their opponents’ families to raise the anxiety and stress levels so that such opponent’s are diverted from detailing the activities of these bottom-feeding sharks.
Then, in the midst of the swill swims an agent of influence of the Mob, mostly unware that he is doing the bidding of a criminal cabal. He cruises on by, doing the Australian Crawl, adding to the mayhem and distress but often in a beguiling and humorous sequence of lunacy. So, this story and others dealing with the Fat Wallet Mob as illustrative of The Fifth Estate, swing on the pendulum of life: often funny, sometimes deadly serious. As Hebrew speakers and backpackers over a beer often toast from the back of the throat as though about to expectorate, “L’chaim,” To Life; so it was equally well said in the Australian idiom by Our Ned Kelly, Such is Life, just as the Jacks pulled the lever for the last long drop.