HAVING A CRACK
If you must travel into the Australian underworld, it helps to have a guide like best- selling crime writer Tara Moss. She cracked a few Tough Nuts for Guy Davis.
provide an insight into who these people are and what makes them tick.
And who better to present the series than Australia’s queen of crime fiction, Tara Moss?
With a wealth of law-enforcement and underworld research for her five best-selling crime novels under her belt, the former model definitely knows her way around the dark end of the street. And she speaks knowledgeably about the eight people profiled on Tough Nuts.
“ Each of these men was a career criminal who made a significant impact on an era of Australian organised crime,” she said.
“ We profile everyone from Australia’s first gangster, Chow Hayes, who came to prominence during the Razor Gang wars in Sydney in the ’ 30s to Melbourne’s ‘ Mister Death’, the ’ 80s drug baron Dennis Allen.”
While the paths of many of these men crossed during their chequered careers, Moss points out that each of them emerged from a different set of circumstances.
“ Most died violently by the time they were 40, with the exception of Chow Hayes, Lenny McPherson, who ruled the Sydney crime scene for four decades, and Russell Cox, Australia’s most wanted man for 11
“ We clearly show not only the most infamous crimes but also the formative years of these people, the aftermath of their crimes, the brutal consequences and, in most cases, the violent end to these men’s lives,” she said. “ In real life, crime doesn’t pay.”
Ah, but in the world of fiction it seems to pay quite nicely. For instance, Moss has parlayed her literary career into a nifty pay-TV sideline, not only hosting Tough Nuts but also presenting the series Tara Moss in Conversation for the 13th Street network. years,” she said. “ He’s our only living Tough Nut, who also happens to be reformed.”
The reformed Cox is certainly an exception in the criminal culture Tough Nuts explores, and Moss believes the show provides an “ antidote” to programs accused of glamorising the underworld.
“ Tara Moss in Conversation is an informal, author-to-author interview show where I get to ask questions of some of my favourite local and international crime writers – my dream book-nerd job, essentially,” she laughed.
“ And at the 13th Street website ( www. 13thstreet. com. au), I run a monthly crime book club called Tara Moss Recommends, where, just as the name suggests, I recommend a new novel each month, chosen from among the best classic and contemporary crime literature.”
All this talk leads one to wonder: what’s a nice girl like Tara Moss doing spending so much time with the bad guys of the world?
“ I am fascinated with human psychology and the extremes of human nature and experience, including criminal behaviour,” she explained.
“ I am always saddened by the terrible things humans do to one another, although after 12 years of research into criminology, criminal psychology, psychopaths and serial killers it is hard to genuinely shock me.”
Facing evil: Tara Moss presents the criminal case studies of Alphonse Gangitano ( top), Christopher Dale Flannery ( middle) and Lennie McPherson ( bottom).