Quota | Jock Serong

I really want to read this one after editing Kernel Kate’s review. QUOTA sounds like an Australian BROADCHURCH. A blend of courtroom drama, closed off witnesses and that oddness about small fishing towns that want to keep to themselves, and of course, crime. QUOTA is out now from the fine folks at Text Publishing, you will find it in most book stores or you can obtain it HERE. Please also note it was the Winner of the Ned Kelly Awards for Best First Crime Novel, 2015. Enjoy Kate’s review as I email her asking for this review book back – I need a good crime novel!! All the best…………..JK.



A small Australian fishing town, a Melbourne lawyer who’s just blown it with an in court meltdown, and a murder with the key witnesses refusing to tell the truth. QUOTA, from Jock Serong, takes us on a thrilling trip to country Victoria and into the murky world of illegal fishing and murder.

Lawyer Charlie Jardim has blown it. Up before a judge he has nothing but contempt for he lets loose and tells the judge exactly what he thinks of him. Cited for contempt of court he is sure his career is over. To top things off his fiancee has had enough and calls it quits. Returning to his chambers and thinking about packing up and quitting law altogether Charlie is surprised to discover he still has one friend left when a prosecution brief arrives at his door. Charlie’s old friend and something of a mentor, Harlan Weir SC, has thrown him a lifeline. As soon as Charlie starts reading he is hooked.


Quota Jock Serong Author image
Quota | Jock Serong | Author image courtesy of The Standard



In the costal town of Darphin a few hours from Melbourne a burning boat with a body on board has been found washed up on the reef. The local police have arrested a suspect and the case has landed on Weir, and now Charlie’s desks. But something isn’t right. According to the victim’s brother, Matthew Lanegan, the dead man and the two accused became involved in illegally trading over-quota abalone and once they had proven themselves, drugs. This appears to be just a deal gone wrong.

As soon as reading through the statements collected by the police Charlie can see something in this story doesn’t add up. Proposing to Harlan he drive down there to check things out he realises this was Harlan’s plan all along. Before he knows it Charlie is off on a semi voluntary weekend away leaving his career and relationship troubles behind him.


Charlie’s trip gets off to an ominously bad start. He hits a kangaroo in the dusk light before he even reaches town and realising he hasn’t quite killed it is forced to put it out of its misery. If being a big city lawyer wasn’t enough to inspire the distrust of the locals arriving at the local pub dishevelled, shaken and splattered with blood certainly is. With local suspicion running high Charlie seems to have an impossible task ahead of him in gaining some trust and getting the real story of what happened that night.

Lucky for Charlie there is one person in the town who seems to like him; affable, all knowing bar tender Len. Stuck in Darphin at least until his car has been repaired Charlie sets to work but will anyone in the town open up to him about what they know and more importantly why are they hiding it in the first place?


QUOTA in some ways is a typical crime thriller. A closed society, distrustful of outsiders, perhaps due to its remoteness which is not extreme by Australian geographic standards but enough to close them off. A murder between likely candidates who were involved in illegal dealings at the time. A secret that no one will reveal until our intrepid investigator befriends the locals and gets to the bottom of things. Where QUOTA finds its point of difference and its real strength is the compelling local flavour. The story borrows a lot from Serong’s own life, having been a barrister in Melbourne and relocated to Port Fairy, also a costal town three and a half hours away. The process Charlie goes through of gradually unwinding and adjusting to the town’s pace of life feels authentic.


Quota Book Cover image



It’s easy to draw comparisons between fictional crime-solving lawyers. They seem to pervade the modern crime fiction genre. Regardless of how much hands on investigation lawyers actually do we’ve always got a hard-boiled wannabe detective like Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason or a smooth talking show stopper such as THE LINCOLN LAWYER himself, Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller. Smart, tricky and always slightly the wrong side of the rules there is no shortage of lawyers ready to try anything to get their clients off.

Charlie Jardim however doesn’t compete with all these larger than life characters. He is refreshingly normal. Slightly damaged, going through a hard time and a little bit of a fish out of water. Rather than trying to outsmart everyone or trick them in to confessing by revealing sensational evidence he just shows up, has a few drinks and waits for everyone to stop hating him enough to get them talking and hopefully telling the truth.

A great Australian debut and worth a look for crime fiction lovers. I’m hoping we will see another novel from Serong soon and maybe even the continuing adventures of Charlie Jardim.


4 Pops



Having always loved stories one of Kernel Kate’s most frequent childhood memories was her parents telling her in the early hours that it was way too late to still be reading and to go to sleep, but she would always sneak in the end of the chapter. Her love of stories led to a career in movies as well as remaining an avid reader of everything from novels to academic papers and junk mail. She makes a perfect reading machine fit to the Salty Cob.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the publisher or distributor – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.