Aged six, Robert Drewe moved with his family from Melbourne to Perth, the world's most isolated city – and proud of it. This sun-baked coast was innocently proud, too, of its tranquillity and friendliness.
Then a man he knew murdered a boy he also knew. The murderer randomly killed eight strangers – variously shooting, strangling, stabbing, bludgeoning and hacking his victims and running them down with cars – an innocent Perth was changed forever.
In the middle-class suburbs which were the killer's main stalking grounds, the mysterious murders created widespread anxiety and instant local myth. 'The murders and their aftermath have both intrigued me and weighed heavily on me for three decades. To try to make sense of this time and place, and of my own childhood and adolescence, I had, finally, to write about it.'
The result is The Shark Net, a vibrant and haunting memoir that reaches beyond the dark recesses of murder and chaos to encompass their ordinary suburban backdrop.
Robert Drewe was born in Melbourne on January 9, 1943, but from the age of six, when his father moved the family west to a better job in Perth, he grew up and was educated on the West Australian coast. The Swan River and Indian Ocean coast, where he learned to swim and surf, made an immediate and lasting impression on him. At Hale School he was captain of the school swimming team and editor of the school magazine, the 'Cygnet'. Swimming and publishing have remained interests all his life On his 18th birthday, already wishing to be a writer but unsure 'who was in charge of Writing', he joined 'The West Australian' as a cadet reporter. Three years later he was recruited by 'The Age' in Melbourne, and was made chief of that newspaper's Sydney bureau a year later, at 22. Sydney became home for him and his growing family, mostly in a small sandstone terrace in Euroka Street, North Sydney, where Henry Lawson had once lived. Robert Drewe became, variously, a well-known columnist, features editor, literary editor and special writer on 'The Australian' and the 'Bulletin'. During this time he travelled widely throughout Asia and North America, won two Walkley Awards for journalism and was awarded a Leader Grant travel scholarship by the United States Government. While still in his twenties, he turned from journalism to writing fiction. Beginning with 'The Sava