Neal Drinnan - The Devil's Grip
Time & Location
About The Event
Neal Drinnan's unforgettable The Devil’s Grip explores the power of shame, reputation and conflicts of gender, sexuality and class.
Neal is in-conversation with Stephanie Wood, author of Fake.
About the Book
The dark side of Australian rural life has always inspired novelists but The Devil’s Grip proves that truth is far stranger and more disturbing than fiction. It unravels the secrets and lies that led to the seemingly motiveless 1992 murders of Darcy Wettenhall, his son Guy, and pillar of the sheep breeding establishment, Janet Wettenhall. In writing this book, Drinnan enlisted the help of Bob Perry, Darcy Wettenhall’s secret lover for a decade prior to his murder.
From the bucolic majesty, privilege and snobbery of the Western District’s prized pastoral lands and dynasties to the bleak, loveless underworld of orphanages, rodeo stables and homeless shelters, The Devil’s Grip is a courageous and thought-provoking meditation on the fragility of reputation, the folly of deception and the power of shame.
While the triple murder forms the backdrop, it is Neal Drinnan’s haunting recreation of the story behind the scenes and an unforgettable cast of characters that fuels this epic tragedy. In a powerful blending of true crime and memoir, Drinnan brings to visceral life another time and place, capturing the universal truths from this devastating event and the ripple effect throughout the community and the country as a whole.
It is the deeply personal and intimate insights Drinnan weaves into the story – about men from different walks of life and generations who share the same sense of shame, and the power it has over them, that makes The Devil’s Grip a much deeper, richer and more disturbing and affecting experience than any fictional tale.
"A remarkable piece of work. It is a strange, unusual and beautiful book with an incredibly unique setting. I don't think I've read anything quite like it. It is compulsive reading. True crime. Memoir. History. How do you live a life honestly and with dignity? It's difficult to categorise because it traverses so many genres. But it WORKS." - Matthew Condon, author of the Three Crooked Kings trilogy
"On its face this is the story of a family steeped in the pursuit of the perfect ram, but beneath the surface lies a riveting and ribald tale of lust, loss, manipulation, unbridled ambition and ultimately murder." - Mark Tedeschi AM QC and author of Eugenia, Kidnapped and Murder at Myall Creek.
"An unforgettable, courageous and deeply tragic local story which manages to become a universal tale" - Gregory Day, author the Miles Franklin-shortlisted A Sand Archive.
About the Author
Neal Drinnan is an award-winning Australian writer and independent bookseller. His previous works include the novels Pussy’s Bow, Glove Puppet, Izzy and Eve (winner of the Lambda Literary Award), Rare Bird of Truth, Quill and Rural Liberties; aThe Rough Guide to Gay and Lesbian Australia.
The Devil’s Grip is his first work of narrative non-fiction.
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