Books by Mark Dapin

Mark’s book, Prison Break: Shantaram to the Bangkok Hilton, The World’s Most Wanted Australians (Allen & Unwin), was released in August 2021.

On a Sunday afternoon in 1980, armed robber Gregory David Roberts abseiled down the front wall of a maximum-security prison in broad daylight. He spent a decade on the run in West Asia before writing his own legend in the bestselling semi-autobiographical novel, Shantaram.

In the late nineties, Melbourne-based drug dealer and gangster David McMillan became the only Australian ever to escape from the so-called ‘Bangkok Hilton’ in Thailand.

And in 1999, armed robber John Killick was airlifted out of a maximum-security prison by his beautiful Russian-born girlfriend – after she hijacked a helicopter with a machine gun.

With unprecedented access to ex-prisoners, prison officers and police, as well as ASIO files and witnesses, Mark Dapin brings to life a hidden criminal world of prison brutality, courage and legend. Prison Break tells the real story behind Australia’s most audacious prison escapes and proves that sometimes the truth is even more compelling than the myth.

Public Enemies: Russell ‘Mad Dog’ Cox, Ray Denning and the Golden Age of Armed Robbery (Allen & Unwin), was released in August 2020.

In the Australia of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, armed robbers were the top of the criminal food chain. Their dash and violence were celebrated, and men like Ray Denning and Russell ‘Mad Dog’ Cox were household names long before Underbelly established Melbourne’s gangland thugs as celebrities.

Both were handsome, charismatic bandits who refused to bow to authority. Both were classified as ‘intractable’ in prison, and both escaped. Cox was the only man to escape from Katingal, Australia’s only ‘escape-proof’ jail. Soon after he broke out, he tried to break in again and rescue his mates.

Their story is one of violence (both men killed at least once) and romance (both men had lovers on the run – Denning had many girlfriends; Cox married into a Painters & Dockers gangster family); and humour: Cox, whose real name was the distinctive Melville Schnitzerling, lived on the run under the noses of the police in Schnitznerling Road, Warwick – a street named after his great-grandfather.

It is also a story of the unimaginably horrible life of boys condemned to ‘institutions’ in the 1960s, and the terrible conditions in Australian jails in the ’70s and ’80s. These were the hells where a whole generation of armed robbers was forged.

Mark Dapin brings his brilliant research skills and distinctive, powerful narrative style to a book that explores the life of these infamous yet celebrated public enemies and the criminal world they inhabited. From armed robberies, shootings and bashings to prison barbarity and jail breaks, this is the gritty, page-turning reality behind the headlines.

Mark’s previously published works include: