Review Blog

Aug 07 2011

The Ottoman Motel by Christopher Currie

cover image

Text, 2011. ISBN 9781921758164
The Ottoman Motel is the first novel by Brisbane author Christopher Currie. The genre is an interesting and, at times, confusing mix of adventure, coming-of-age and gothic mystery. The plot is set in an out-of-the-way seaside village called Reception, a place where visitors arrive but do not leave unless dead. Twelve year old Simon arrives with his parents to visit his grandmother, unseen by them for some time, since Simon as a toddler was injured while in her care. The three travelers stumble upon what turns out to be a drugs manufacturing and distribution centre. When Simon's parents disappear and are presumed murdered, Simon is taken in by the family running a boarding house in Reception. Meanwhile Grandmother, living in the same boarding house, is entertaining one of the criminals in her bed. The boarding house owner has also suffered tragedy, his wife and mother of his two children having drowned in mysterious circumstances. Another resident, Pony, has survived the murder-suicide of his parents. Madaline, the police constable, is fighting her fears of her inadequacy and a past botched investigation. Despite this cast of unlikely characters the novel is quite gripping and written in a lively way. The characters and the dialogue are unexpectedly quite believable, with poetic insights that add colour. However, the mix of genres ultimately works against the plot and it is frustrating that the central mystery is unresolved. The novel also struggles at times to strike an appropriate tone, and the audience is problematical. While the main protagonist is a twelve year old, the descriptions of the sexual relationship of the gay criminals are not suitable for middle school readers. Senior readers may enjoy the book.
Jenny Hamilton

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