What readers say about Billy Lime
Hollywood should sign Lime up
Does it get any better than this? Bikies, drugs, rock 'n' roll and a parade of truly authentic modern Australian characters makes this a real page-turner. And Billy Lime is sublime. Hollands has put together a complicated man and a fascinating narrative that deserves a long-running series - and if Hollywood hasn't come looking already to sign Billy Lime up, it soon will. It's like reading a book with a fast, grinding guitar soundtrack in the background. Fast, tight and guaranteed to get your pulse racing. Well worth the ticket.
- Garry Linnell, Sydney
You'll want to take up booze, drugs and babes
With a cover tagline that screams ‘sex, drugs, rock’n’roll - and murder’, it’s immediately clear that Mark Hollands has no intention of allowing readers to slip into a boredom-induced coma.
The first of what will hopefully be many Billy Lime offerings, Amplify is a fast-paced, adrenalin-charged read that lays its cards on the table at the very outset. Featuring protagonists including ruthless outlaw bikers and a band of substance-fuelled Motley Crue-esque rock superstars, this debut offering motors along at a frenetic pace thanks to punchy prose that drives the narrative with page-turning ferocity.
In beleaguered music promoter Billy Lime, the author presents an unlikely but equally compelling hero figure. Dark, edgy, and morally dubious, he lives in the kind of world we perhaps secretly wished we inhabited, all the while being secretly glad that we don’t.
Although far more than a mouth-watering insight into the mind-blowing excess, debauchery and bitchiness of rock’n’roll at its most elite, don’t be surprised to find yourself suppressing the urge to take up booze, drugs and babes (or even the guitar) by the end.
It’s well worth a look.
- Owen Thomson, Wollongong
Fast and furious - an Aussie ripper
If you like your stories fast and furious, AMPLIFY is a real Aussie ‘ripper’ to keep you entertained at full volume from cover to cover.
From the page-one moment tax inspectors blunder into a Sydney brothel, super-hero Billy Lime’s charmed life explodes into an orgy of violence, drink, cocaine and 'shagging'.
In keeping with the best tabloid newspaper tradition, the title headline says it all: “SEX, DRUGS, ROCK ‘N ROLL – AND MURDER” .
Former hack Mark Hollands has crafted a racy tale that leaps from Australia to the United States and leaves behind a trail of corpses.
As events quickly spiral out of control, pop music impresario Lime is forced into deadly dances with bikie gang thugs, a drugs cartel and one of its top assassins, while managing the addictive antics of what might have been the world’s best hard rock band.
Even his own top silk is suspect and Lime has to outfox the local police’s finest gumshoes.
Hollands' first novel certainly packs a punch, just like Lime who’s smart, rich and doesn’t seem to give a s***, until the tragic finale perfectly sets up a second Billy Lime Thriller.
- Barry Parker, Sydney
A memorable anti-hero
Mark Holland’s debut novel is a stunning thriller with a memorable anti-hero. Like all the best thrillers it grabs from the opening pages. The story is dark and brooding with intense sex and equally intense violence. The story concludes with unfinished business and an obvious opportunity for a sequel, which I shall look forward to.
- Phillip Tolley, United Kingdom
Billy is The Bomb
Billy Lime is the bomb. He out-thinks Sherlock, out-guns Bond and creates a new definition for cool."
- Chris Pash, Sydney
Ticks all the boxes
As a lover of crime novels, ‘Amplify’ ticks all my boxes. With a thoroughly modern setting, sexy characters and a multi faceted plot, there is nothing about this book that will allow it to be put down. Fast paced and deliciously intriguing, I finished it desperate to read the next installment.
- Emma Cary, Melbourne
Hollands is making headlines
"Hollands learnt his craft in newspapers. Amplify will mean he makes headlines himself."
- Doug Wills, United Kingdom
Authentic and fallible characters
The characters are larger than life and that's part of the fun. They also felt fallible, like real people. I loved the Australian language that came out and also the location placing grounded the book and made it feel real - gave it authenticity. Loved the police characters and the barrister. I can definitely see at least two more books in this series. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
- Samantha Cager, Sydney
It's a page turner
I finished the book in short order. It's certainly a page turner. I really enjoy unstoppable heroes, so Billy was a good character for me.
Being a Sydney-ite, I both really enjoyed the local references; streets, watering holes. I was always curious as to "what's next for Billy Lime"?
- Roger Hocking, Sydney
You'll love the bad boy in Billy
Live the rock star life vicariously through Billy Lime.
From the first page, you're addicted to the sex, drugs and rock n roll life. Amplify is a sexy page turner on the seedy side of the music industry that keeps you engaged and wanting more.
The Aussie charm make you love the bad boy in Billy while he slithers through the underbelly of the music scene and everything that comes with it. Men want to be Billy, women want to be with him…
- Maria Terrell, Dallas, USA
Roll on book 2!
I found this a rip-roaring read. Kind of John Grisham meets Clive Cussler meets Miami Vice. Thoroughly enjoyable, I read it in one hit. Roll on Book 2…
- Charlie Duffill, Sydney
BILLY Lime is a charismatic icon of rock music whose world view and values have been shaped by a cut-throat industry, love of the underdog and the discipline of martial arts.
He’s a promoter, an impresario, a risk-taker, making fortunes fast and losing them just as quickly. Everything in his life is extravagant – penthouse, Lamborghini, motorbikes and women.
He throws outrageous parties for society’s elite, promotes the best acts from around the world – plies both with booze and prostitutes as part of his "vertically integrated" business model – and raises millions for charity.
His peers respect him but few have escaped his tough negotiation tactics. Women love him, not just for his success and reputation for a great time, but his rebel attitude and knuckle-biting figure he cuts in jeans and a leather jacket.
Billy began as a promoter of amateur boxing tournaments and soon began bank-rolling young bands in Sydney, then London and Los Angeles, including the then-little known American bad-boys, The Pagans of Virtue. He became their manager and turned them into a rock legend. In 2010, Billy quit as their manager to return to Australia, finalise a divorce and spend more time with his daughter Rebecca. In Sydney, he set up LimeGreen Music, an entertainment and band management company, with his best mate from school, Simon Green.
The Billy Lime novels follow Billy's adventures in sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and the criminal underworld.
Billy Lime's Sydney
The locations you'll find in Amplify.
Harbour View Hotel
Historic hotel that could tell a tale
The Habour View Hotel - set under the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge- is no stranger to "unusual" deals. It was built on land originally put aside for religious purposes. The street outside the popular pub in the historic Rocks area is where assassin Deon Williams obtains his deadly cache.
Billy's Right Hand
Kimmi has been working with Billy for five years. She walked into LimeGreen Music as a nervous graduate from the University of Sydney and quickly caught Billy’s eye. Kimmi isn’t just sexy and sassy, she’s so smart you could cut your finger on her. She schlepps ungrateful musicians around Australia, cajoling those who are drunk, high or both to get on stage, and then cleans up their mess once they’re on a plane home. Kimmi loves every moment. A tomboy, and a Karate 2nd Dan, Kimmi never thinks there is anyone she cannot handle. Except Billy. She knows he’s her match and more, which is why she loves him. She dare not say it for fear of rejection, losing her dream job and losing him.
FBI Special Agent Gabriela Martinez is stationed in Canberra when she is pulled into Billy Lime’s life. Gabriela asked to be seconded to Australia to get over the murder of her husband, a fellow FBI agent who was shot dead in their driveway by mafia being investigated for wire fraud and tax evasion. She’s the daughter of Mexican parents who crossed the border illegally when she was two and built a life for their only child. She is academically bright and, through the hard work of her parents and won a scholarship to study at Yale. She joined the LAPD before being approached by the FBI. The moment she and Billy meet, a spark of romance ignites.
The Pagan Virtue
Talented, charismatic and obnoxiously conceited in equal measures, Jet Kelly is the lead singer of The Pagan Virtue.
He’s everyone’s idea of a hard-drinking, drug-taking lead singer. After 25 years of all that, he’s had enough. Other members of the band have other ideas and want a world tour to celebrate 25 years together.
Jet wants none of it but is worn down by the others, who all need the cash after wasting fortunes on drugs, cars, and ex-wives who took them for everything.
By the time the Pagans get to Sydney, Jet Kelly ready to kill. And someone is ready to kill him.
The Pagan Virtue
Founder of The Pagans of Virtue, Rick Stewart is constantly battling to hold his band together. Stewart pulled the Pagans together in the ’90s, creating a power-rock sound in Los Angeles that matched anything happening in Seattle at the time. Stewart and Kelly collaborated on their earliest and biggest albums, but Kelly now refuses to write with him and the Pagans’ popularity is appears to be sliding quickly. Since Billy Lime left as their manager, Stewart has been locked in a continual war with Jet Kelly for control of the band’s direction. More than once, he’s threatened to kill Jet. Everyone says that one day, maybe, he’ll do it.
Frankie Smythe is the enforcer and leader of the Australian arm of bikie gang, the White Sharks. Doing a 10-year stretch for murder, Smythe is nearing the end of his sentence and he’s ready to do business again. Drug business. At the centre of his scheming is Billy Lime, the publicity-seeking music promoter who seems to bring every American rock band into Australia. And with the musos comes a shitload of band and staging equipment – the perfect cover for the White Sharks’ new operation.
Being a big city lawyer is more sport than profession to David Carmody. Smooth, sophisticated and stinking rich, he is infamous for one-liners in front of judges, his silk ties and headline-dripping summations. Winning in court is not sufficient for his ego. He intimidates and then humiliates. His favourite client is Billy Lime, a never-ending source of revenue and amusement. Billy first hired him to analyse contracts with fast-talking American management companies and wide-boy Brits in pin-stripes. Carmody took them all on and earned Lime a fortune. English-born, Carmody lives the idyllic lifestyle of trophy wife, penthouse overlooking Bondi Beach and a coterie of Italian vintage sports cars.
An old school cop, pure and simple. Jim Scard has spent his career catching killers, drug dealers, bikers, deviants of varying perversions and a thousand petty crims living on the fringe of society and beyond the edge of the law. Four decades of pulling collars have made him hard-edged and cynical. He’s six months from retirement, and is confronted with his biggest case. He is going to solve it whatever it takes. And he has one last score to settle before he goes, too.
Hot-shot cop straight out of police college, Ryan Cameron has a reputation as the most ambitious officer in NSW Police – and he’ll stop at nothing to get the next promotion. Most of his colleagues think he’s an asshole – not because of his blunt sometimes arrogant manner, or his brutally efficient investigation skills, but because he was engaged to Jim Scard’s youngest daughter and failed to show on the big day. Cameron feared Scard’s immediate retribution but nothing has happened . . . yet.
Voluptuous, sassy entertainment reporter nicknamed Me-Me because she writes about herself in every story she files for The Sentinel.
She thinks it’s because the first two letters of her first and second names spell out Me-Me, but then she’s not very self-aware.
She’s an old Billy squeeze who still shimmies into tight skirts and even tighter situations. Billy hands her the biggest scoop of her career only for her to find herself at the wrong end of a gun.
A sneak preview of Amplify
Check out the first exciting chapter
The echo of rumbling motorbikes bounced from the plate-glass of inner-city skyscrapers on a hot, airless night as Suzi Liu pushed the front door of her brothel shut. Her hands shook with fear from the confrontation that had lasted only a few seconds, a confrontation she’d remember for a long time.
She’d remember them: the tall one, young and dangerously handsome behind a wispy beard, and the older, shorter one who did the talking and said they were White Sharks. Suzi reached for her mobile phone, wedged into the top of her leather mini-skirt, and swiped to ignite the screen in the half-darkness of the foyer. She could do no more. Her hands wouldn’t stop shaking. Her unsteady fingers refused to find the speed dial for the only man who could stop this.
She wiped at her eyes and felt the sting of tears and mascara. She cursed. She was tougher than this.
She hurled her phone against the wall, angry at herself, at her weakness: angry at Billy Lime.
A heavy thud on the other side front door made her jump away, her body instinctively cowering. It was a muscular beat, the cadence angry and impatient. Just like before. They’d come back: maybe to hurt the girls, to hurt her. Suzi shouted back through the door. “I told you, I don’t know where he is. I ring him. Promise. Give him message. Promise.”
A peal of three heavy knocks returned in response. Suzi Liu shut her eyes tight, repeating her mantra, “Go away; go away.”
“Excuse me, Miss . . .”
An effeminate male voice: no biker spoke like that.
Suzi exhaled her relief.
Of course it was. It was Friday evening and peak hour was fast approaching at the Pretty Kitty. Boys wanted their fun and she wanted their cash.
“One moment,” she yelled back, racing to the front desk to find a mirror, wipe charcoal smudges from beneath her eyes, reapply mascara and top up the lippy.
Back at the door, she drew a deep breath, put on her best welcoming smile and opened, feeling the sticky warmth of the sub-tropical evening overwhelm the air-con of the Pretty Kitty parlour.
Her thighs, tanned and lithe, wrapped in the soft leather of Spanish El Dante studded boots, had a mesmerising effect on three men standing before her in a shallow triangle on the street. The youngest, at its pinnacle, held a beaten-up, brown leather briefcase to his stomach. Suzi read the fading gold leaf calligraphy on its front, GB.
Despite his lack of years, he seemed to be the leader but something didn’t feel right. They weren’t punters. Suits like this trio usually came alone, hiding from marriages and mortgages. And they weren’t police. She knew them all, at least those who operated in Haymarket and Chinatown. Cops were pack animals, travelling in twos and threes, ready to release sexual energy like angry steam from a broken valve. These guailo were different, less physical but somehow dangerous.
The young one was staring, a schoolboy mesmerised by the merest hint of flesh. She surveyed the two other men standing either side of him. They wore black suits, crisp white shirts and different shades of blue tie. Both carried regulation grey at the temples. Their pallid, waxy faces suggested too much time in the office pummelling keyboards and calculators. One met her inquiring eye, smiled flirtatiously and winked. Suzi pouted and flashed her eyes. Sex was her business. And she was good at it.
Hands on her hips, Suzi separated her thighs a little wider under that mini-skirt to see what she could tease from the white-collar threesome. The Briefcase Boy, no more than a kid in a pudgy body gone to middle-age before its time, just stared, oblivious to all that surrounded him. Suzi smelt his forbidden fear, fixing him as an introvert, his sexual fantasies incarcerated by Protestant, private school values. Her mix of exotic flesh and thigh-high leather boots terrified and excited simultaneously.
She’d made plenty of money from such boys, but not from him. Not yet.
“Looking up, lover,” she laughed, using her right index and middle finger to point towards her own hazel eyes, their feline shape emphasised by fresh charcoal eyeliner.
The young man, his sandy hair thin, flat, and swept across his head, jerked his gaze from her flesh pressed against the soft tops of those boots.
“Come inside and tell me what you boys would like tonight?”
He swallowed hard, adjusted his tie with his free hand and cleared his throat to be heard over the traffic stop-starting between reds and greens on Sussex Street. Sydneysiders were pouring into the city for their Friday night kicks. Distant thunder rolled off the Pacific and across the city.
“Good evening,” he said formally. “I am Gerald Boxall of the Australian Taxation Office, and you are Ms Suzi Liu, owner of this establishment, namely the Pretty Kitty Men's Club.”
Tax inspectors, and on a Friday night. Suzi fretted. First, bikers and now these bastards. Her flirtatious humour vanished as quickly as it had appeared. “Question or statement?” she snapped.
Boxall offered nothing in response.
“I said,” she paused to emphasise her aggressive repetition, “question or statement?”
Gerald Boxall stammered, uncomfortably nervous at the aggressive response. “Statement; no, I mean, er, question.”
Suzi knew about raids. There was the police kind in which officers barged in waving paperwork and leather wallets with badges that were supposed to mean something. Then there was the tax raid that came with a politeness inversely proportionate to its pain. These taxmen were going to demand entry and the law said she had no right to refuse them. Keeping them on the doorstep would scare away punters but having them stomp their size 10s through the Pretty Kitty would be even worse. Two detectives, a judge and a newspaper editor were banging away right now. Her reputation would be ruined if they were discovered.
“Answer to question is—no.” She’d decided to apply her finest Chinglish to this situation.
Boxall recoiled. “What?”
“No, not owner; I—not own Pretty Kitty. You say. Not true.”
“Good start, Mr Boxall.” The voice was sarcastic and English to Suzi’s ear, and came from the suit who’d just winked at her. “Come on, Boxall. Get on with it. It’s about to piss down.”
“Who you?” asked Suzi of the Englishman.
“Duncan Pardew.” He smiled, confusing charm for smarm.
“Ingrish. Good customer: very polite. Not like Skippy.”
This drew a laugh from Pardew.
“Never mind that.” Boxall impatiently opened his briefcase and dug deep for some paperwork.
Suzi watched him, unamused. “Any more question? Busy night. You want girls? Yes or no.”
He tilted his head up from his fumbling, flustered. “Yes, of course,” he said, quickly realising he’d replied to her offer of sex. “I mean no. No, we don’t want sex, but yes, we have more questions.
Many more.” He paused to get back on track. “I am sorry. You are the manager of the Pretty Kitty. The owner is a William James Lime. Yes?”
Without waiting for a response, he placed the briefcase at his feet, reached inside his jacket and withdrew a rectangle of plastic with a photograph of himself. “Gerald Boxall, Senior Inspector, Australian Taxation Office,” he said.
“I hear first time,” said Suzi curtly. “No more bullshit. You other boys want good time? Pretty Kitty give good time. All time.”
Pardew’s laughter gave Suzi the distinct feeling he was enjoying how she had Boxall squirming. “No freebie.” She pointed directly at Boxall. “Only cop freebie. Fireman, if wear uniform. Girls like. Taxman – you motherfuckers pay.”
“Jesus, Boxall,” said Pardew at the rear. “Get a grip. It’s starting to rain.”
Behind the taxmen, a gold Mercedes CSK 500 with fat tyres and honeycomb rims pulled up on the other side of Sussex, illegally parking half on the footpath. Two Chinese, one thin with spiked hair, the other heavy-set, Shanghai-height, got out. The two wore expensive suits with gold chains dripping down polo shirts buttoned to the collar. They began to slice through the three-lane congestion that had come to a standstill. Suzi saw their approach and shook her head slightly, enough to persuade them to return to the Merc. The tax inspectors turned with choreographic precision to see what was going on. The Chinese returned to lean against the hood of their pimped Merc, their gaze on the brothel front door unflinching.
“Oh, perfect,” said Pardew, “the local Triad. Can you get on with this, Boxall?”
She fixed on Gerald Boxall, pointing towards the men perched on the Mercedes, now holding umbrellas to shield them from light rain, an entrée to another summer storm. “You cost business, stand on street like Men in Black. You want good time, come in. Not, piss off.”
“Ms Liu,” said Boxall, struggling to settle himself, “under Section 263 of the Australian Taxation Act, we are authorised to enter these premises and inspect, and or confiscate for inspection, any records or computer equipment believed to relate, directly or indirectly, to the avoidance of the payment of legitimate taxes to the Commonwealth of Australia.”
“Don’t need one.”
“No believe.” Suzi put her hands to her hips in defiance.
“Don’t need one,” repeated Boxall with increasing confidence.
Suzi knew this was true. “Letter of authorisation. You have?”
“I do, yes.” Boxall’s voice was a mix of surprise and suspicion.
A hooker appeared at Suzi’s shoulder. At 178 centimetres and in fifteen centimetre platforms, she towered above her diminutive boss and filled the doorway. “Trouble?” she asked aggressively.
Suzi thrust a clenched fist up to shoulder height like a platoon leader on patrol, stopping the amazon moving further forward. “No trouble.”
Boxall pressed on, stepping forward with the letter she’d demanded. “Under Section 263 we have the right to enter these premises immediately.”
“No enter,” she said slowly. “Have one phone call. Get advice. Law says. You wait. Double-Debbie look after you,” she added, gesturing to the woman in black lace and white leather blocking the doorway. Suzi knew she didn’t have the right to a phone call but figured those tax wusses wouldn’t take on Double-Debbie.
She spun on a stiletto and headed into the soft, red light of the Pretty Kitty. She heard the Englishman behind her complaining. “Lightning fucking raid, this one.”
Suzi’s office was little more than a box large enough to hold its modest Ikea desk, two gunmetal-grey filing cabinets and a burgundy leather couch where girls would pour out their emotions, confessing broken hearts, STDs, and addictions; always asking for Suzi's help, always wanting money, the only help they understood.
Discarded lingerie littered the floor, causing her to catch a heel and nearly fall. “Bloody girls; how many times have I said,” she complained into the half-light, knowing all the bitching in the world would never change the domestic habits of girls on the game.
She lit the desk lamp, spread the authorisation across her chipboard desk, and cast her hand across it to smooth down the folds. It looked depressingly in order. She leaned back in her Chesterfield swivel chair, considered how this was going to trash tonight’s takings, then went back to Boxall’s letter of authority. A string of eight numbers caught her eye. She looked at her watch, reached for the phone and hit #1.
What seemed an eternity passed before a familiar voice answered above the buzz of a busy bar.
She shouted to be heard. “Billy! Big trouble! Very big!”
About the author
Mark Hollands was born in Portsmouth in southern England and spent his teenage years in Devon, playing cricket, rugby and cultivating a prolific knowledge of music trivia thanks to punk-era media like the NME, Melody Maker, Kerrang! and Sounds.
He began his media career as a 16-year-old cub reporter and tea-boy at The Sidmouth Herald, and went on to edit magazines before migrating to Australia after a working holiday took a permanent turn. He has held editorial roles in major media companies across Australia and the UK, and spent two years as a journalist in Papua New Guinea. He’s currently CEO of the Australian media industry body, The Newspaper Works.
Mark has worked in major American companies Gartner Inc. and Dow Jones, launched a dotcom back in the day, is a keen student of psychology and devours crime novels and music biographies. He lives in Sydney with wife Kylie and youngest son Charlie with his eldest son, Sam living and working in the UK.
Amplify is his first novel.
A crime thriller set in the seedy world of the rock music business has been released by first-time novelist and long-time media executive, Mark Hollands.
What kind of books do you write?
Thrillers. Mine are focused on a central character, Billy Lime, who is a music promoter and entrepreneur. The first and coming novels are anchored in the music industry, which is undergoing tremendous change and challenge because of digital disruption. It has all the double-crossing bastardry and scheming that you’d expect in the entertainment industry.
The man charged with promoting the newspaper industry Mark Hollands has released his debut novel. Interestingly though Newspaper Works CEO Mark Hollands has decided to go all-digital, giving paper formats a swerve.
Australian Crime Writers Association
Music promoter Billy Lime is in trouble.
The tour of rock legends, The Pagan Virtue, is the biggest in music history. Their concerts in Australia should be a career highlight if Billy can keep the warring musicians off the drugs, out of the bars and on the stage.
From Mark's favourite authors