Nice Try (1998) is the third in Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan series, who has to cope with the murders he encounters in his career as a political minder and support man of the elected Labor minister Angelo Agnelli. In Nice Try, the Melbourne bid for organizing the Olympic Games is in full swing but the local government is in fears of the Aboriginal protest movement attracting attention to their cause. When a black athlete connected to the Aboriginal spokesman is murdered, Whelan is called upon to fix the problem and save the the city’s chances for major urban investment. By writing about a political support man and fixer, Maloney is able to reveal the sordid, amoral interests that lay behind the political game, of which he write in an incisive, ironical, humourous way.
The six titles in the Murray Whelan crime thriller series (Stiff,The Brush-Off, Nice Try, The Big Ask, Something Fishy and Sucked In) all feature Murray Whelan, initially as a Labor Party staffer who provides support to a Victorian State Government minister but later as a member of the Victorian State parliament. The novels are ordered chronologically and follow Whelan’s progression through the Labor Party’s ranks during the late 1980s and early 1990s at a time when the Labor Party was in power at both a federal and state level in Victoria. Each novel follows Whelan as he attempts to uncover the truth behind murders, fraudulent schemes and shady dealings in and around the suburbs of Melbourne. Although his motives are usually genuine – protecting his own tenuous employment and sparing his minister from political death – Whelan inevitably ends up in over his head after implicating himself and faces enmity from the criminals, the police, party colleagues and his estranged wife who wants custody of their son. The Brush-Off won the Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction in 1997 and was shortlisted for the Premiers Literary Award as well as being set as an English text for Victorian secondary students.