Millions have been entertained by the viral video of a man being arrested after a ‘succulent Chinese meal’. But when Mark Dapin investigated, it emerged that this man's story went to the heart of the Australian underworld. A true crime cult classic in the making.
Whether you know it as the ‘succulent Chinese meal’ video, or ‘democracy manifest’, chances are you have seen the video of baritone larrikin Jack Karlson getting arrested outside a Brisbane Chinese restaurant in 1991. The Guardian called it ‘perhaps the pre-eminent Australian meme of the last 10 years’.
When Karlson called crime writer Mark Dapin out of the blue, though, Dapin hadn’t heard of him. But there was enough that intrigued him about this theatrical outlaw to continue the conversation. Over the following months emerged a dark and complex past. It turned out that Karlson had been in the background of many notorious incidents in late-twentieth century Australian crime, from collaborating with infamous prison-playwright Jim McNeil to befriending hitman Christopher Dale Flannery (Mr Rent-a-Kill).
But most shockingly of all, Karlson’s life story led Dapin to shed new light on a number of unsolved murders, by two serial killers.
The result is an extraordinary, deeply revealing portrait of Australian crime from the 60s to the 2010s – a portrait of carnage.
‘Mark Dapin could never be accused of glorifying crime, but he is guilty as sin for understanding it. Inhabited by flawed humans, filled with violence, humour, tears and dreams, Carnage is a classic Australian crime story.’ Gary Jubelin, author of I Catch Killers
'True crime at its grim and richly entertaining best, and – let’s face it – its truest.’ Robert Drewe, author of The Shark Net
‘If ever there was a book crammed with colourful villains who are “mad, bad and dangerous to know,” it’s definitely Mark Dapin’s extraordinary book, Carnage.’ Kate McClymont, author of He Who Must Be Obeid
‘Carnage is a window into Australian mayhem, killingly funny and beautifully told. Dapin finds pathos in a twisted world.’ Matthew Spencer, author of Black River
‘Carnage begins by probing what seems a minor curiosity – an internet meme centred on a colourful character – then takes a turn into the lives of traumatised youths hurled without care or thought into brutalising reformatories. From there they graduate to rorts, robberies, violence. Bleak lives interspersed with occasional forays into squaresville – spouses, kids, even jobs – and attempts at betterment via theatre and literature. A unique, deeply felt take on the Australian underworld.’ Peter Doyle, author of Crooks Like Us
‘The moment I start reading anything by Mark Dapin I’m captivated, intrigued and engaged for the entire journey. There is no finer writer documenting the history and characters of Australian criminality.’ Stuart Coupe