Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Broken Shore, by Peter Temple

If I were a fan of crime fiction, I would have loved this book. I am possibly missing a tiny strand of DNA, as the other members of my family devour mysteries and crime dramas with relish. Then again, all of them are also blessed with a terrific sense of direction. Perhaps the two are related?

So, from the perspective of someone who does not particularly like dead bodies littering her reading material: This beautifully written book takes place in a small town on the coast of Australia. The title character spends lots of time hiking broodily through the countryside with his dogs. He has some sort of complicated back story, which includes being responsible for the death of another cop. He's your typical loner detective; injured in both body and psyche, with an admirable sense of justice and a little too much dedication to his job. Originally I thought that I'd stepped into a series midway, and thus didn't understand his past and how it affected this particular story, but apparently this is the first Joe Cashin book. The reader unravels the mystery of the protagonist's life as he uncovers the truth behind a local murder. Layers upon layers.

This is a great book. I'd like to say that if it is in fact the beginning of a new series, I will read every one. But to be honest this is just not my genre. However I would heartily recommend it to anyone who does like crime fiction; the imagery of the landscape and the deft handling of the racism at the center of the story are both really well done. The outcome seemed very improbably to me, but then I feel that way at the end of just about every mystery novel.

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