It starts in a suburban backyard with Darren Keefe and his older brother, sons of a fierce and gutsy single mother. The endless glow of summer, the bottomless fury of contest. All the love and hatred in two small bodies poured into the rules of a made-up game.
Darren has two big talents: cricket and trouble. No surprise that he becomes an Australian sporting star of the bad-boy variety—one of those men who’s always got away with things and just keeps getting.
Until the day we meet him, middle aged, in the boot of a car. Gagged, cable-tied, a bullet in his knee. Everything pointing towards a shallow grave.
The Rules of Backyard Cricket is a novel of suspense in the tradition of Peter Temple’s Truth. With glorious writing harnessed to a gripping narrative, it observes celebrity, masculinity—humanity—with clear-eyed lyricism and exhilarating narrative drive.
It would be easy to dismiss this as just another crime novel, albeit a gripping one. But it is much more as it scrutinises a number of singularly Australian preoccupations – our obsession with sport, with celebrity, with larrikinism, and it examines the idea of masculinity and success in today’s Australia. Beautifully written, it is unputdownable.
Jock Serong’s debut novel Quota won the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel. In 2016, The Rules of Backyard Cricket was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. On the Java Ridge is his third novel. Jock teaches law and writes feature articles in the surfing media and for publications such as The Guardian and Slow Living. He lives with his wife and four children in Port Fairy, Victoria.