While a few of us may harbour some kind of murderous intent when it comes to certain politicians, only three Australian politicians have been killed while in office.
Percy Brookfied was a member of the NSW Legislative Assembly when died in 1921, after a scuffle with an armed man. In 2004 Ivens Buffett was shot dead in his office in Norfolk Island where he was Deputy Chief Minister. And, most notably, NSW member John Newman was shot and killed outside his home in Cabramatta in 1994.
When author Michael Brissenden sat down to write the first draft of his second book Dead Letters that idea was floating in the back of his head - what would happen now if a high-ranking politician was murdered?
Here Daniel LeRoi, federal member for the electorate of Barton in the heart of Sydney, chairman of the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, favourite of the Prime Minister, is found dead in his car, four bullets in his head. There's also an unexplained dead body in the boot of his car.
"When I wrote the first draft that was the idea I had, what would happen if a politician was murdered and I think I underplayed it to be honest," says Brissenden.
"Then I got help from some people I knew in the NSW Police, and in particular a former detective, who basically said no, this is what's going to happen.
It's incredibly liberating to be able to write fiction, it enables you to take the story wherever it might go, where you want it to go and come up with resolutions. Real life isn't quite so neat.Michael Brissenden
"That scene where they find his body, I had to boost that right up, because there would be a massive security cordon around it, the deputy commissioner would be phoned and come to the scene, all that sort of stuff would happen.
"And then, for me, it was about who would use the murder and its consequences and motives for their own benefit afterwards."
It's all brought together on the eve of a federal election and the incumbent government's on the slide.
The Prime Minister's advisors are keen for him to tie the murders to domestic terrorism as they push their message of keeping Australia safe.
But there's way more to it all than first seems.
You wouldn't categorise the book as a political thriller; it's a crime novel, yet not a procedural one. The main characters are the ones solving the puzzle.
Investigating the crime is Australian Federal Police investigator Sid Allen who Brissenden introduced in his debut novel The List.
"I knew I wanted to write another Sidney Allen book, I'd grown kind of fond of him by the end of The List," Brissenden says.
"I wanted to flesh him out as a character, get into his background a bit more, and I think I've succeeded in doing that."
In Dead Letters Allen starts a relationship, both personal and professional with journalist Zephyr Wilde.
They bounce off each other as characters, discover a similar background, "they sort of understand each other in a weird way because they each have these holes in their lives which gives them some shared experience."
Indeed, it's the hole in Wilde's life that provides the twist in Dead Letters, and the title.
Her mother Shirley ran a brothel in Newton in the '80s and '90s before she too was murdered. Each year on her daughter's birthday, a letter arrives explaining her mother's life, divulging secrets of people in powerful positions.
Shirley's murder was never solved and it turns out LeRoi was helping Wilde with an informal investigation. Are the two murders related? Who has the most to lose? What connections are there at the highest level of politics? What questions need to be answered?
Brissenden has been asking those questions for more than 30 years in a career covering federal politics, defence and national security for the ABC.
He is currently a reporter on the ABC'S Four Corners, writing in what limited spare time he has. He has plans for more fiction, unsure whether Allen might be around in the third one, but it's something he enjoys doing.
He says the process of writing Dead Letters was a little different to his first book. The List was published in 2017 "and I wrote that one not knowing it would ever get published".
"I wanted this one to be good, I knew it would be published, it had to be as good or even better and I think it is."
Writing fiction is very different to the day job, he says.
"It's incredibly liberating to be able to write fiction, it enables you to take the story wherever it might go, where you want it to go and come up with resolutions. Real life isn't quite so neat.
"Every writer brings their experience to fiction in one way or another but you have to treat writing fiction as something quite different. It's like a different muscle. You have to do a lot of research.
"You go to people with a different set of questions, research a particular thing which you might not get to do in your day job."
Brissenden has been good mates with author Chris Hammer for a long while - the pair are in conversation at a Canberra Times/ANU Meet the Author event on February 2 - and he says they often talk about how important it is to tell Australian stories.
Hammer's books have been set in the bush, by the sea, the latest, Trust, heads back to the city. Dead Letters is full of familiar places as it moves back and forth from Sydney to Canberra. Brissenden's descriptions of place and setting truly do set the scene.
"I think it's fantastic that Australian fiction is having a moment, that a strong domestic tone, if you like, is being developed and some Australian writers are having great success overseas," he says.
"We're kind of the polar opposite of Scandi noir ... Chris jokes and calls it 'bush noir', the Jane Harper kind of book set in that small town.
"But it's more than that, there's a sense of climate in Australia, even if you're not in the bush. Jo Nesbo sets his books in cities but they're definitely Scandi noir and that's developing here too."
He says it's important too to have books which address Australia's place in the world, our response to things, what is actually happening in Australian society beyond what the tourism brochure might have you to believe.
"These books tells us so much about the moment we're in, the time we're living in, the issues that are coursing through our neighbourhoods."
- February 2 In an ANU/Canberra Times meet the author event from 6pm to 7pm, Michael Brissenden will be in conversation with Chris Hammer on Michael's new crime fiction novel, Dead Letters, featuring his main character, Canberra counter terrorism expert and AFP agent Sid Allen. Cinema, Kambri Cultural Centre, ANU. Registrations at anu.edu.au/events.