The central character in PM Newton’s novel The Old School, Detective Nhu (Ned) Kelly is a new kind of heroine. Nhu is a young Asian female detective who, in the masculine-defined culture of NSW Police, breaks new ground by providing a voice that blows apart cultural stereotypes of Asian women and female police officers.
It’s refreshing to come across a ‘tough’ female cop that is more reflective of the contemporary experience of younger Australian women, especially first-born generation migrants. The Old School kicks-off in Goulburn Police Academy with Nhu taking part in undercover police work. Right from the start, Newton crafts a fast-paced narrative in which the reader is drawn into Nhu’s professional and private world and the culture of NSW Police, through the heroine’s experiences.
What at first appears to be a straightforward call out to a Bankstown building site becomes a murder investigation that takes Nhu on a journey of discovery and reveals a previously unknown family history. Newton has taken time to include Sydney geographical and cultural references that add an additional pleasure to readers familiar with the city. Even as a reader of mostly non-fiction I found myself unable to put this book down.
PM Newton is currently studying a Master of Arts in Writing by Research at UTS. The Old School is her first novel.