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Kings Lane

Sydney's criminals had always kept hand guns and knives in their armoury, but after the Pistol Licensing Act of 1927 dealt an automatic prison term to anyone with an unlicensed firearm, many outlaws began carrying a cut-throat razor, honed sharp.

Norman Bruhn
Norman Bruhn was a gunman, thief, standover man and pimp feared for his garroting skills: one hand tightening a leather thong around the spluttering purple victim's neck, the other rifling his pockets. He was thirty-two when he arrived in Sydney from his home town Melbourne, in November 1926, with his wife of six years, Irene, and toddler sons. Within months he was the number-one criminal in Kings Cross and Darlinghurst. Bruhn's gang included John 'Snowy' Cutmore , George 'The Midnight Raper' Wallace and Frank 'Razor' Jack Hayes.

Snowy Cutmore
Cutmore's go was standover thuggery, dope-peddling and sly-grog selling. He was renowned for viciousness. In 1919, still years before he turned up in Sydney, he slowly, deliberately, battered a trussed-up rival with an iron bar, stopping only when his victim neared death.

George 'The Midnight Raper' Wallace
Wallace earned his nickname by sexually assaulting hookers who refused to pay him a cut of their takings. He would often slash their faces for good measure.

Razor Jack Hayes
Razor Jack Hayes was a scoundrel. He gave his occupation as salesman and a successful racecourse punter. What he did best, however, was wield a razor. He was also handy with his fists and was into anything illegal.

The razor is more effective than the revolver as a cash extractor. The sheen of its bright blade close to the cheek puts deadly fear into the heart of the victim... Razor gangs are terrorising the underworld of Darlinghurst, that region of bohemia, crime and mystery. The razors its members carry in their hands are feared far more than the revolver of the ordinary crook. Men who will defy the black muzzle quail before the bright blade held threateningly to their cheek. But even with their faces slashed open, victims refuse to speak when questioned by police. They know too well the fate that awaits them once the gang learns that they have allowed resentment to get the better of their discretion. So they remain silent, and prefer to attempt revenge in their own way. It's all an underworld affair, to be settled in the underworlds' own drastic way and that is why a deep veil of mystery shrouds a carnival of blood-letting. Men have pledged themselves to 'get' each other and there are at least two men who, should they meet face to face in their peregrinations, will stage a combat that should be short, sharp and utterly decisive.

Truth Newspaper, 1927

Adapted from the award winning book Razor, by Larry Writer © 2001, Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. Second edition now available with new material. Find out more >> about the bookBuy the book >>