Slitting throats in Freo

A KILLER is on the loose in Fremantle’s historic West End, slitting women’s throats in dank alleyways.

That’s the starting point of Leigh Straw’s new novel, Limestone, which follows Detective Sergeant Claire Patterson as she tracks down a serial killer.

The author, a history lecturer at Edith Cowan University, is no stranger to the macabre: previous non-fiction works include Drunks, Pests and Harlots, which shed light on women who stalked the seedy streets of Perth and Fremantle in the early 20th century.

“From the Round House to the old convict buildings and Fremantle Prison, Fremantle’s crime history inspires attention,” she says.

“Dark alleyways, old limestone buildings and the criminal deals made in various cafes and pubs are perfect material for fiction and non-fiction.

“I used to live in Marmion Street in an old cottage built in 1895 and have always enjoyed the history that makes up Fremantle’s character.”

• Leigh Straw and the cover of her grisly novel set in West End Fremantle. Photos supplied

• Leigh Straw and the cover of her grisly novel set in West End Fremantle. Photos supplied

Limestone, set today, follows Straw’s history of writing non-fiction books. She garnered knowledge of contemporary crime by talking to police.

“Former and current members of the WA Police read the manuscript and offered insights into operational procedure, investigative methods and delighted in telling me some interesting police stories that I was able to draw on,” she says.

“My last fiction book Sophia Lane set in Sydney in the 1930s also featured a policewoman as a central character, and I’m also currently writing a true crime biography of Sydney underworld figure, Kate Leigh.”

Originally from Kinross in Scotland, Straw says some of her favourite writers are Scottish exponents of “Tartan Noir”, such as Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin.

“I’ve already started on the sequel to Limestone, which will feature the DS Patterson character again, and Fremantle,” she says. “There is a character loosely based on my husband in it.”

The Chook quickly confirmed he was not involved in a sex scene.

“No, no—my mum has to read this stuff,” she laughed.


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