Book Review: Success in HSC Extension English Crime Fiction 2nd Ed. by Suzan & Bruce Pattinson

sucessinhsccrimefictionPublisher: Five Senses Education

Publication Date: 2003

I borrowed this book from my local library yesterday for my Extension student, who is doing Crime Writing in 2010!

Success in HSC Extension English Crime Fiction 2nd Edition is the pre-2009 guide to Extension English 1: Genre – Crime Fiction (now Crime Writing). I haven’t got the 2009-onwards edition, but from this 2nd edition, I would say the 3rd edition is probably very good too.

As the pre-2009 edition, the book covers these prescribed texts:

  • The Skull Beneath the Skin
  • The Real Inspector Hound (still a prescribed text in 2009+)
  • The Big Sleep
  • Anil’s Ghost (still a prescribed text in 2009+)


  • Thorough overview of Genre and the Crime Fiction Genre (including history, sub-genres, conventions).
  • For each prescribed text, covers:
    • Information on the author
    • Plot overview
    • Setting
    • Characters
    • Themes
    • Language/style techniques
    • Adherence to conventions
  • List of possible related texts
  • Practice questions for both the analytical and creative response
  • Sample analytical and creative responses.

What works really well in this book is its coverage and substance. Many other guides that cover an entire course or area usually fail to go into enough detail about text. And this is where this book succeeds! It manages to cover the entire Crime Writing elective and does so in impressive detail (from genre theory to creative responses).

Furthermore, it relates each prescribed text to the conventions of the Crime Writing genre (which is the point of this elective!).

Activities and Questions:

There aren’t any activities in this book. But I suppose this is because it’s primarily a notes-based book.

It does, however, have a list of practice exam questions for the analytical and creative responses, which is good – there aren’t many books providing practice creative questions. I’ll definitely¬† be giving these to my student to practise on.

There are also focus questions specific to each prescribed text, but I’m probably not going to use that…

Should I get it?

Is it worth borrowing/buying? Yes, if you’re studying or tutoring Crime Writing AND if you’re looking for a informative, notes-based book, as opposed to an activities/question book.

BUT – you should probably get the 2009+ edition!

6 comments for “Book Review: Success in HSC Extension English Crime Fiction 2nd Ed. by Suzan & Bruce Pattinson

  1. November 19, 2009 at 6:16 am

    I feel that there should have been more activities in the book. Perhaps a more interactive theme would have really helped the readers.

  2. David Harrington
    November 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I do hope there will be more useful information in the book. It will provide you very useful guidelines on crime writing.

  3. November 19, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    The theme of the book sounds good but a little bit of description would have made things easier.

    Well, i found your blog very interesting. Please visit my website someday.

  4. Kym
    December 24, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I have the first edition of this book.

    I don’t know about the second edition, but the spelling and grammar are poor.

    • tutortales
      December 26, 2009 at 9:07 am

      Hm, I didn’t notice that in the 2nd edition. But bad spelling, grammar and typos are rife throughout Top Notes books! It’s like the books haven’t even been proofed or edited before the publisher’s churned then out. Nonetheless, the material is quite helpful sometimes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *