In the explosive sequel to Three Crooked Kings, award-winning journalist Matthew Condon continues to delve into the sordid history of Queensland’s police force and the man at its helm, Terry Lewis.
Jacks and Jokers, the second instalment of the true crime trilogy, picks up where the first left off in a trail of killings, bagmen and blackmail which eventually culminated in the Fitzgerald Inquiry from 1987.
In Three Crooked Kings, which won the 2013 John Oxley Literary Award, Condon traced the relationship between crooked cops and corrupt politicians, and the origins of the infamous Rat Pack who ran the force in the `70s and `80s.
They were detectives Lewis, Tony Murphy, Glen Hallahan – the favoured boys of corrupt Queensland police commissioner Frank “the Big Fella” Bischof.
Jacks and Jokers chronicles the rise of the convicted and jailed Lewis, who was promoted from obscurity in 1976 as assistant police commissioner to Ray Whitrod.
The book reveals how former premier Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen was part of an organised campaign to remove the corruption-fighting Whitrod before hand-picking Lewis to replace him as commissioner.
It all occurs amid a dirty underbelly that infiltrated every level of Queensland society and linked the police to drug smuggling, illegal gambling, cold case murders, and even paedophilia.
Condon’s large-scale investigation is the result of his extensive interviews with the disgraced Lewis and his access to the now 86-year-old’s copious diaries.
He also interviewed former officers and politicians, criminals and anonymous whistleblowers.
The book asks who the mysterious Lewis really is; whether he was simply a stooge for Bjelke Petersen, or if he was infinitely smarter and more cunning than anyone imagined.
* Jacks and Jokers by Matthew Condon is published by University of Queensland Press, rrp $29.95