Matthew Condon spent two years interviewing Lewis, and has additionally interviewed hundreds of his contemporaries, former premiers and politicians, petty criminals and standover merchants, and ordinary Queenslanders and their relatives who unwittingly got caught up in a corruption network that traversed decades. Its impact reverberates to this day. Told decade by decade from the 1950s to the present day, the book also investigates the birth of the so-called Rat Pack in the late 1950s, the consolidation of corruption under former commissioner Frank Bischof in the 1960s, the pivotal alleged suicide of prostitute Shirley Brifman in the 70s, the collapse of the separation of powers in the 1980s that allowed corruption to freely infect the government and the judiciary, and Lewis' time as a prison inmate in the 1990s. Three Crooked Kings is not just a social history over half a century, but a grand narrative teeming with murder, pay-offs, political machinations, drug heists, assisted suicides, police in-fighting and a complicated system of corruption that ultimately collapsed under its own weight.
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