Are the below reading group notes? Not really. Instead, "they" are a series of questions about Rip Off that might help stimulate discussion.

Rip Off was conceived prior to the Global Financial Crisis. Do you think that the crimes of the various rip off artists in the book have been overshadowed or made less meaningful by the systemic sins of Wall Street? Has Kel Robertson copped out by only focusing on the transgressions of people at the obviously criminal end of the spectrum? 

Robertson has said that he was excited by the idea of having Brad Chen on the trail of a killer who the public regards as a hero - of having Chen pursue someone who the public doesn't want caught. How likely is a "popular vigilante" scenario in contemporary Australia, bearing in mind the allegedly light sentences handed out to white collar criminals, bearing in mind our anger at corporate avarice (think about anti-bank feeling in recent years) and taking into account our lionising of bushrangers like Ned Kelly?

There is a chapter half way through Rip Off  containing a lengthy discussion (a) about the many ways in which investors can be ripped off and (b) about what prompts normally cautious people to place their financial futures on the line. Was this discussion an impediment to your enjoyment of the book?  Did the explanation of why people invest with fraudsters seem sensible to you? Did the chapter seem too didactic? Do you think much effort went into this part of the book and into the descriptions (at various points) of how different types of scams and frauds actually work?  

Rip Off is set in 2007. A number of the things that Robertson complains about in the book - deficiencies in the behaviour of players in our financial system - have been subject to increased regulation since 2007.  The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has been a much more active regulator and the Parliament has also been busy in this space.  Can you think of particular initiatives taken by ASIC and the Parliament to prevent or discourage the sorts of sins that are complained of in Rip Off?

A lot of professions and vocations get a hard time in this book - lawyers, politicians, financial advisers, accountants and taxi drivers most particularly.  is this criticism merely cheap populism (designed to increase the appeal of the book) or is there something to it?

In his review of Rip Off in The Weekend  Australian in September 2011, Graeme Blundell said "The wise-cracking Chen is still a delight and the fluctuating, knowing rhythms of Robertson's style are beguiling".  Do you agree that the pace is beguiling or do you side with a reviewer of the earlier books who said that a bit more Riley-esque speed is in order? Which scenes/chapters would you delete?

Kel Robertson has been accused of not paying respect to the conventions of the crime genre.  What aspects of Rip Off are, in your view, typical of the genre and what aspects are not? Do you think that at this stage of the genre's history there are still conventions, bearing in mind the many different types of crime novels? How many "types" of crime novels (sub-genres) can you come up with?

Some crime novels are, arguably, timeless.  Rip Off is very much of its time. What makes it something of "the now"? 

Humour and drama need to be finely balanced if tension is to be maintained.  Do you think that Robertson achieves the right balance in the final scene of Rip Off (in the family day care centre at the back of a Sydney house)?

Where do you think the relationship between Chen and Rose is headed at the end of Rip Off

What were you favourite moments in the book? Were there any expressions or exchanges that you found particularly entertaining or memorable?

  

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© 2008 Kel Robertson                                                                                                                                                                         
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