This summer, Adrian Deans’ Sydney teems with cicadas, desire and blood. Arguably, the worst part of the season is Morgen Tanjenz: rich, bored, and with just enough time on his hands to pursue his passion for Life Sculpture. With cash and connections and righteousness at his disposal, he takes it upon himself to very creatively disrupt the lives of those who draw his ire by such enormous criminal acts as talking too loud on a train or taking the job Morgen had coveted.
Acting with a little less subtlety is the Gorge Killer: a serial murderer who sends fingers in the mail. Detective Sergeant Peter Fowler—better known as Blacksnake—is on the hunt and about one bad coffee away from physically exploding with pent-up frustration.
When Morgen says, early on, “I felt my sense of justice becoming engorged—even tumescent, you might say”, it gives a good indication about how unnerving the whole book is. Still, it remains also enormous fun, with Morgen’s machinations utterly, horribly enjoyable in that kind of grim way that makes you worry a bit about your own sanity. He baits perfectly nice people for fun, poses as a Salvo and spends all the earnings on brothels and booze. He is attractive, clever and dreadful: all excellent ingredients for a protagonist. With a blitz of an ending and such originality throughout that you can never pick where it’s going to go next—except badly—Straight Jacket is a quality disturbing read.