Sally Bothroyd’s debut novel, Brunswick Street Blues, is a slapstick mystery tale that follows the adventures of Brick Brown, a part-time bartender and detective. The story is set against the lively backdrop of Melbourne, Australia, and is full of quirky characters and interesting crime situations.
Book review Brunswick Street Blues
The story opens with Brick’s attempt to investigate an issue surrounding her uncle’s treasured blues club. This leads her into the heart of the city council, where she discovers the local mayor’s dead body. This shocking discovery sets off a chain of dangerous events that Brick must contend with. With the help of a journalist, Brick becomes fully immersed in the criminal world and works with a set of associates in their united quest to uncover the corruption that has seeped through Melbourne.
Sally Bothroyd was the inaugural winner of the ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize in 2020, and in March 2022, her manuscript Brunswick Street Blues received full publication treatment thanks to the folks at Harlequin Australia. Her debut novel is an enjoyable crime mystery and action-drama novel with a deep Australian flavor.
Lead protagonist Brick Brown is a likable and colorful figure with an interesting background. Bothroyd devotes the correct amount of page time to fleshing out her prime protagonist’s past and backstory, so a clear understanding emerges from the pages of this entertaining story. Brick is supported by a strange bunch of outside sources, from love interest Mitch to other various allies. This lively bunch helps to progress the storyline and introduces elements of humor.
The investigation itself rips open the dark underbelly of Melbourne’s gritty world, full of corruption, dodgy political alliances, property issues, wayward documentation, questionable deaths, forgery, theft, and plenty of dark corners. The pace is somewhat compromised by all these happenings, resulting in a less than smooth reading experience. However, Bothroyd does tease out the narrative with plenty of gritty and seedy themes related well to her Victorian setting base. The Melbourne sojourn with Brick, Mitch, and the crew is an enjoyable one.
Overall, Brunswick Street Blues is an entertaining read, and Sally Bothroyd’s debut novel is a promising start to what is sure to be a successful writing career.