Six Degrees of Separation from True History of the Kelly Gang to Worth Killing For

It’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

The starting book is True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

I haven’t read True History of the Kelly Gang. According to Amazon: To the authorities in pursuit of him, outlaw Ned Kelly is a horse thief, bank robber and police-killer. But to his fellow ordinary Australians, Kelly is their own Robin Hood. In a dazzling act of ventriloquism, Peter Carey brings the famous bushranger wildly and passionately to life. Set in the desolate settler communities north of Melbourne in the late 19th century, the novel is told in the form of a journal, written by the famous outlaw and “bushranger” Ned Kelly, to a daughter he will never see.

First Link:

True Grit by Charles Portis follows Mattie Ross, a determined 14 year-old, who in the 1870s leaves her mother and younger brother at home whilst she sets out after Tom Chaney, who had worked for her father and had killed him. Chaney had joined a band of outlaws – the Lucky Ned Pepper gang and had gone into hiding in the Indian territory. She hires one of the marshals, Rooster Cogburn to get Tom Chaney.

Second Link:

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry, set in Tennessee in the 1870s, where former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole and Winona, the young Indian girl they had adopted are living on a farm, about seven miles from a little town called Paris. These are dangerous times not just in the town but also in the woods outside the town from Zach Petrie’s gang of ‘nightriders’.

Third Link:

Any of the Rebus books by Ian Rankin, featuring Big Ger Cafferty, the ruthless gangster boss, organiser of crime in Edinburgh. The Black Book is the first book in which he appears.

Fourth Link:

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo. Inspector Macbeth, an ex-drug addict is the head of the SWAT team in an industrial town in the 1970s in Scotland, a town full of drug addicts, where there is a titanic struggle for control between the police force, corrupt politicians, motorbike gangs and  drug dealers.

Fifth Link:

In Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens young Oliver is forced to join a gang of young pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger under the control of Fagin in Victorian London.

Sixth Link:

My final link is Worth Killing For by Ed James. It reminded me of Oliver Twist with a phone-theft gang of young hoodies on bikes, who snatch mobile phones in modern day London. They are led by the mysterious Kamal.

My chain has just one link running through it. It has travelled from north of Melbourne in Western Australia to western Arkansas in America, then to Edinburgh in Scotland and ends in London in England, linked by gangs in each location – gangs of outlaws, ‘nightriders’, organised criminals, drug dealers, motorbike gangs, gangs of pickpockets and mobile phone thieves.

10 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation from True History of the Kelly Gang to Worth Killing For

  1. Great theme! I have read A Thousand Moons and Oliver Twist – now I’m trying to think of other books I’ve read with gangs in them.


  2. There are several books I’d like to read here.

    Macbeth looks really good; last week I attended a concert by the Big Noise orchestra, which is the local branch of a project based originally on Sistema in Venezuala. In Scotland it was started in Raploch, a very run down and drug-addled area of Stirling. It has made such a difference to so many people’s lives, and is now being spread out to many areas of deprivation in of our cities. Macbeth sounds like it highlights the issues that started to affect these post-industrial communities in the 1970s – the only local employment was taken away and people were left with no money, and equally importantly no sense self-worth.

    I love Ian Rankin’s Rebus books and John Rebus’s complicated relationship with Cafferty. I find it hard to remember which ones of the series I’ve read, especially as many have now been televised. I’ll have a look at The Black Book, the title does not ring any bells so perhaps it’s one I still have to look forward to!


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