AUTHOR Robert Gott reckons places like Port Fairy are ideal for a bit of homicide.
That’s why he’s written The Port Fairy Murders, the second book in his crime series set during WWII.
“My only connection (to Port Fairy) is as a tourist,” Gott explained.
“I have friends who live there so I go there fairly frequently. It’s a beautiful place.
“I thought it would be an atmospheric setting for a novel. Small town’s are perfect for putting a murder in.
“They’re little nests of intrigue.”
The sequel to The Holiday Murders follows Victoria Police’s fledgling homicide department as it stumbles on to small town intrigue while chasing down members of a fascist group called Australia First.
“The thing that engaged me (in researching) The Holiday Murders was the existence of these groups of people - I found it hard to believe they were actually here - but there were real National Socialist sympathisers,” he said, adding that learning about Australia First was the trigger for writing the first book.
“Australia First was a semi-political group of extreme right-wing people.
“They had a magazine called The Publicist, which I read some of - they’re in the State Library.
“It’s unbelievable that this was available for sixpence.
“It was rabidly anti-Semetic and pro-Japan and pro-Nazi Germany.
“It’s really creepy.”
Equally fascinating and disturbing was his research into religious divides small town Australia, Gott said.
“It was also hard for me to believe that a place like Port Fairy, and it was magnified in small towns, but there was this incredible divide between Catholics and Protestants,” he said.
“And it really mattered - it wrecked people’s lives.
The Port Fairy Murders makes the most of its south-west setting. A killer hides out in The Stump, lovers stroll through The Gardens, the Warrnambool and Port Fairy police stations feature prominently, while a farm in Mepunga is the scene of some horrific violence.
Gott has been a guest of Port Fairy’s Ex Libris Festival on occasion, giving talks about his crime caper novels starring Will Power.
But he concedes he is still best known for being the man behind The Age cartoon The Adventures Of Naked Man, which he readily agrees is “the world’s longest-running dick joke”.
“Sadly I’m still (best known) for that,” he laughed.
“But I’m getting more and more known for my novels.”
That level of recognition could grow if The Holiday Murders and The Port Fairy Murders were turned into a TV series, which Gott hopes will happen.