28 February 2020

Review: Shark Arm by Phillip Roope & Kevin Meagher

Shark Arm - A Shark, A Tattooed Arm and Two Unsolved Murders by Phillip Roope and Kevin Meagher cover
RRP $32.99 AUD
Published January 2020
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

Picture this. Sydney, 1935. In an aquarium in Coogee, a tiger shark captured off the coast of Sydney a week ago is swimming around, looking poorly. It swims to the bottom of the pool and is sick, and up floats a human arm with a tattoo of two boxers clearly visible on the forearm. It sounds too crazy to be true right? But this really happened.

In Shark Arm - A Shark, A Tattooed Arm and Two Unsolved Murders, Australian authors Phillip Roope and Kevin Meagher delve deep into this mystifying cold case in an attempt to find out what happened and who was responsible.

The odds of the arm being revealed like that must be a billion to one and it certainly sparked my interest in the case. Just imagine, if it had been the victim's other arm then identification would have been impossible. In the 1930s tattoos weren't nearly as prevalent as they are today and this made the case an immediate sensation in the press.

The victim was quickly identified and the door was opened onto some very shady dealings going on in Sydney at the time. Some of the characters involved in the case were petty criminals, stand over guys, informers, smugglers, insurance scammers and one was even a forger of cheques.

There was one dry patch in this account that followed the suspect as he made several trips around Sydney (perp goes here, does a thing, then goes here and does another thing) but the action certainly picked up when we got to the high speed boat chase on the harbour and the second murder related to the case.

At the end of the book the authors share their own theory on the case and I found myself agreeing with their conclusions. They were open and honest about disclosing source material and referencing previous books on the topic while highlighting their contribution to the material.

Shark Arm by Phillip Roope and Kevin Meagher is a memorable addition to the Australian true crime genre.

Carpe Librum!

My Rating:
★ ★

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