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The Broken Shore


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Despite our common Anglo-Saxon heritage, Australian mysteries have never done well in this country. Perhaps they aren't exotic enough for readers who prefer their murders set in the chilly climes of Scandinavia or the sultry heat of Italy. But if this superb novel by one of Oz's finest crime writers breaks out here, pop open a can of Fosters beer and get ready for an Aussie crime wave. Melbourne homicide detective Joe Cashin, reassigned temporarily to his hometown on the south Australian coast after an incident that left him severely injured and a partner dead, is called to investigate the brutal attack on Charles Burgoyne, a prominent and wealthy local citizen. Suspicion soon falls on three Aboriginal teenagers; two are killed in a botched stakeout, and the third drowns himself in the Kettle, a jagged piece of coastline also known as the Broken Shore. Case closed, but Joe, who has Aboriginal cousins, probes further and uncovers far darker crimes. Temple's (Identity Theory) eighth novel deservedly won the Ned Kelly Award, Australia's highest crime fiction prize; in prose that is poetic in its lean spareness, though not without laconic humor (a character has the "clotting power of a lobster"), it offers a haunting portrait of racial and class conflicts, police corruption, and strained yet unbreakable family ties. A helpful glossary defines such colorful Down Under terms as "stickybeak." Highly recommended. [See Pre-pub Alert, LJ 2/15/07.]-Wilda Williams, Library Journal Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

In Temple's beautifully written eighth crime novel, Joe Cashin, a city homicide cop recovering from an injury, returns to the quiet coastal area of South Australia where he grew up. There he investigates the beating death of elderly millionaire Charles Bourgoyne. After three aboriginal teens try to sell Bourgoyne's missing watch, the cops ambush the boys, killing two. When the department closes the case, Joe, a melancholy, combative cynic sympathetic to underdogs, decides to find the truth on his own. His unauthorized inquiry, which takes him both back in time and sideways into a netherworld of child pornography and sexual abuse, leads to a shocking conclusion. Temple (An Iron Rose), who has won five Ned Kelly Awards, examines Australian political and social divisions underlying the deceptively simple murder case. Many characters, especially the police, exhibit the vicious racism that still pervades the country's white society. Byzantine plot twists and incisively drawn characters combine with stunning descriptions of the wild, lush, menacing Australian landscape to make this an unforgettable read. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

There are a few sure things in Australian crime fiction. With a Peter Corris Cliff Hardy story, for instance, Cliff is sure to get whacked on the head more times than is healthy and to sleep with someone he shouldn't. Peter Temple's Jack Irish is a little like a Melburnian Cliff Hardy-darker and more serious, less flashy-but Temple saves the really dark stuff for his non-Irish novels. The Broken Shore is about a violent crime and its main protagonist Joe Cashin is a policeman. Sent back to the quiet Victorian coastal town where he grew up after a violent incident in Melbourne, Cashin is recuperating and taking things quietly-until local bigwig Charles Burgoyne is bashed and robbed in his mansion and local Aboriginal boys are suspected. To say that from there on in the investigation gets messy is an understatement. But The Broken Shore is much more than a run-of-the-mill police procedural. A good crime novel can broach serious issues and tell readers as much about the society in which they live as a 'literary' novel or a work of nonfiction. The Broken Shore is such a book: serious, unflinching, relentless-and often hilarious. Tim Coronel is the editor of AB&P C. 2005 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

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