How to look incredibly stylish in a mug shot!
I'll be starting novel #2 on May 24 (unless a meteor hits). Ashgrove Park has now been launched into the world, so it's time to tell the next part of Jack and Bea's story. The second novel is called On Jacaranda Street and is set in my hometown of Sydney in the 1920s.
Part of my research has led me to the discovery of what were called "specials." These were mug shots taken by the New South Wales Police department in the 1920s. It's a rediscovery, really, as I ran across specials a few years ago, and I've always kept them in mind, thinking there's a novel in this. And yes, there is!
The photographs were taken at the Central Police Station, where I worked as a law clerk in the first job I had out of high school. Part of that job - and I remember it SO vividly - was to go with a police officer to the 'drunks court' at 9:30 a.m. The people arrested overnight for drunken behaviour were brought up from the cells to the courtroom. The reason I remember it so vividly? The overpowering smell of stale alcohol, vomit and slept-in clothes. My role was to say "all rise" as the judge came in and then do the court reporting stuff.
But I digress. Jack Collingwood - the main character from Ashgrove Park, who was a photographer before going off to the front in WWI - will be asked to take some "specials" at Central Police Station. The result will be that he meets a young lad, Pete Mulligan, a petty thief who Jack takes under his wing. But both of them become embroiled in Sydney's seedy and violent underworld.
The people arrested back in the 1920s posed against walls or leaned on chairs. Women wore stylish hats and pearls, and draped handbags over their arms. Men wore three-piece suits and ties. In many of the "specials," men are grouped together with smiles on their faces, or women look like models. The result is a collection of incredibly stylish and mesmerizing photographs.
I have included a few "specials" in this post, taken from Sydney Living Museums. Go have a look at the full gallery. I have spent hours lost in the brilliance of the images.