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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.
‘Funny, sad and oddly touching…Beautifully written and acutely observed, The Rules of Backyard Cricket is a noir tour de force…Original Australian crime fiction of the first order.
‘Serong writes pithy, pin-sharp dialogue…The book is expertly plotted, and its noirish climax with its dark drama and its final twists, is devastating. Get out and buy this book; it is the best new novel I’ve read this year.’
‘A novel of suspense, I heartily recommend it.’
‘The Rules of Backyard Cricket hits all other cricket books I’ve read to date for six. This tale is not just about cricket, it’s about the good, the bad and the ugly and a timely story, too, with sporting integrity often in question.’
‘Serong is an elegant writer who can move effortlessly from laugh out-loud funny to elegiac to downright touching…Those of us who played back garden cricket and remember how seriously it was taken by all concerned will lap up every single run and wicket in this book.’
‘The writing is sharp and the flawed characters compelling…Serong bowls with a wry eye.’
‘Suffice it to say the back cover blurb that draws a parallel between The Rules of Backyard Cricket and Peter Temple’s best work is no exaggeration. Serong pulls off what I consider an Australian crime writer’s most sought-after Quinella (to use a metaphor from another sport): a literary crime novel that qualifies as genuine Australian noir.’
‘[A] gripping tale of sibling rivalry as two Aussie brothers battle in cricket and in life.’
‘Jock Serong returns with this bitterly, beautifully nostalgic look at a seventies childhood gone awry’
‘Jock Serong’s gripping narrative is a compassionate exploration of masculinity and humanity as he chillingly questions whether we truly know those who are closest to us.’
‘The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong, while classified as ‘crime’, is a compelling literary novel dissecting toxic sporting culture and its fallout.’
‘The Rules of Backyard Cricket got the thumbs up from everyone.’
‘Blow me down if I didn’t hang on every word.’
‘One of the great novels written about sport…Delicious. It’s the top read of the summer.’
‘A deeply interesting novel about sibling rivalry, family, masculinity, and the game of cricket…Serong is a talented storyteller, and he brings this unusual world to life.’
‘Merges my childhood dreamscape of hot days and sporting ambition with a page-turning thriller set within rot of professional sport. Beautifully Melbourne. Get on it!’