Jeff Popple reviews an exceptional new novel, Peace by Australian author, Garry Disher. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog: murdermayhemandlongdogs.com
Garry Disher’s Bitter Wash Road is one of my all-time favourite Australian crime novels. Set in the remote rural town of Tiverton in South Australia, it is a tense and well-written crime story featuring a struggling policeman, Constable Paul Hirschhausen (Hirsch), who was sent to the town following a corruption inquiry.
For a long time, it seemed that Bitter Wash Road was going to be a one-off novel by Disher, but now after a six-year wait we have the sequel, Peace.
Peaceis set about 12 months after the events of Bitter Wash Road, which uncovered murder and corruption in the remote rural setting. Hirsch, Tiverton’s sole cop, has worked hard since then at gaining the town’s support by applying a positive community policing approach and has established a nice relationship with the local teacher, Wendy, and her daughter. It is a peaceful life with only minor crimes to worry about, until a horrible act of violence occurs, and a routine welfare check uncovers something terribly wrong. With Christmas approaching, Hirsch finds himself caught up in a murder and more bloodshed.
This is a well-crafted crime novel that excels in its characterisations and the subtlety of its plotting. The story starts a little slowly, but the pace soon picks up and Disher constantly keeps the reader off balance as the story twists and turns its way to a suspenseful and unexpected conclusion.
The characterisations are rich and interesting and Disher excels in his descriptions of the landscape and the small communities:
“A wheelless Datsun Bluebird crouched in a patch of star thistles; an old latch-door refrigerator yawned at the weeds, a trap for small children.”
In all, Peace is a very impressive piece of crime fiction. There has been a lot of fuss about Australian rural noir in recent years, but few, if any, do it better than Disher. Recommended.
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