A riotously funny true-crime memoir from the dodgy days of 1980s policing.
Loose Units is a hysterically funny biography of very unfunny stuff.
In the guise of an interview, author and narrator Paul F Verhoeven unveils the life of his father, a Sydney ex-cop who worked his way through the police force in an era of thuggery, sexism and dubious policing practices. In doing so, he found himself facing some of the most dangerous situations in the underbelly of society and yet these true-life crime stories are unveiled in the quirkiest and most exciting fashion.
Jumping between the first-person storytelling of himself and his father, Verhoeven junior struggles to understand why he lacks his father’s courage, becoming more and more baffled as his father reminisces about high-speed car chases, extreme violence, intimidation and questionable ethics. The sound effect of a recorder clicking off is used whenever Paul interrupts his father’s tales, making it clear-cut who is speaking, although the differing levels of emotion from the two primary viewpoints is often a dead giveaway. When Paul speaks there is often heightened emotion compared to his father’s more levelled recounting of his working life.
The speed of the storytelling is breathtaking, and the laugh-out-loud commentary often carries a stab of guilt over the reality of the dangerous events and terrifying personalities that made up John Verhoeven’s dangerous career. The clever script is careful not to belittle the situations, but it finds humour in even the darkest of situations.
As the narrator, Paul is spot on with his pace, line delivery and characterisations. The result is a rollicking adventure with just the right amount of detail to keep the listener breathless and hanging on to his every word.
Loose Units is perhaps the most surprising audiobook release I’ve heard this year and certainly one of the best. It’s fresh, funny, frightening and fiendishly fantastic.
As one of the highlights of Bolinda Audio’s 2019 catalogue so far, it’s well worth the $39.95 price tag. Loose Units is available on standard or MP3 CD through the Bolinda website with a run time of six and a half well-spent hours. It was released in April this year and deserves the multiple listens you’re sure to enjoy.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis