Quota by Jock Serong

1. First lines. 2 . Published 2014 Text Publishing 3. Fishing Trawler By Ed Dunens [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Changes: cropped with overlay of red. 4. Scales of Justice [Public Domain] via Needpix

Charlie Jardim is a city barrister who has been banished from the courts for a contemptible outburst at the presiding judge during a trial. He is sent to fictional Dauphin, a small fishing village in south-east Victoria to follow up a prosecution brief, the murder of a local fisherman who was involved with illegal abalone trade and drug trafficking. Charlie is treated with suspicion by the local townspeople, and gets nowhere until he starts to get to know them better.


“… your small-minded treatment of my client has got nothing to do with the merits of the case. I mean, could you have cocked this thing up any worse? Bloody helpless kid and you know she’s back out on the street now. You’re known throughout the state as a heartless old prick and a drunk, and seeing I’ve gone this far, your daughter-in-law’s appointment to the court is widely viewed as a grubby political payoff.”

“He passed a milk bar with a plaster pie suspended above its awning; two doors further on, a fish and chip shop had a grey plastic shark. The trickle of isolated shopfronts, still dark and silent, became a strip: a video library, then an op shop in which everything appeared to be crocheted, a churchy-looking bookstore full of images of Jesus looking like a menswear salesman.”

My opinion:

I think this is a good, solid crime thriller, well-plotted and believable. The depiction of a small country town is vivid, and the characters are realistically portrayed. I enjoyed reading this book.

The opinion of others:
  • Reviewing the Evidence: “As is frequently the case though, this author is definitely writing about a world that he knows (a lawyer himself, living in a smallish seaside town in Victoria), but that doesn’t always translate to something believable. In QUOTA however we have pitch-perfect dialogue, and a strong sense of place about this small town in particular. The characters there are particularly believable and even allowing for the slightly off-camera nature of Jardim, actually quite likeable (a bonus). All of these elements combine to make for a very engaging, and extremely realistic debut novel.
  • Kill Your Darlings: “It’s a well-paced, atmospheric tale that manages to be page-turning as well as poignant; whether you’re a crime fan or not, it’s worth a read.”

2015 Winner Best First Fiction Ned Kelly Award

Other editions:

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