Book talk: Aussie crime novels


This week Jeff Popple looks at some great Aussie crime novels for Australia Day.

Bad Debts by Peter Temple

Text, $19.99

The late Peter Temple was arguably one of our finest crime writers and an entertaining chronicler of the Australian psyche. His series about the former lawyer and occasional private eye, Jack Irish, won universal acclaim around the world and was the basis for the popular television series starring Guy Pearce. Bad Debts was the first book in the series and is a witty and tense journey through the backstreets of Melbourne as Irish tries to find out who murdered an ex-client. It is an excellent read and a good introduction to the series. Text have also re-issued the other three Irish books, and all are highly recommended.

Lucifer Falls by Colin Falconer

Constable, $29.99

Melbourne-based author Colin Falconer makes a welcomed return to crime fiction with a new series set in London. The discovery of the crucified body of a popular priest in a derelict North London chapel is the horrific start to a series of crimes that challenge DI Charlie George and his team in the lead up to Christmas. Under intense media scrutiny they desperately try to catch a killer who seems intent on harming people who are trying to do good. Falconer skilfully mixes dry humour with horrific scenes and the books moves at a sound pace. A solid police procedural.

Man at the Window by Robert Jeffreys

Echo, $29.99

Set in Perth in 1965, Robert Jeffreys’ debut novel is a taut atmospheric tale about old power and stubborn morality. Cardilini is a washed up and frequently drunk detective who is usually given the more mundane cases. The supposed accidental shooting of a boarding master at an exclusive boys’ school, however, re-awakens some of his old instincts and he finds himself on a collision course with his superiors and the powerful elite of Perth. This is a well-structured and evocative book that effectively uses the devices of a detective novel to reflect on 1960s Australian society and the dilemma of justice.

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