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It was as easy as that. Inspired, really. That first one, last week, she hadn't been a challenge at all. Drunk, half-drugged, hitchhiking, she'd been too easy. At least he'd got to use his head a little tonight. His headlights probed the darkness as he carried her away, high above the rottenness that was always there under the light of the sun. Its summer on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne. The heat's ramping up with the usual holiday madness building. Detective Inspector Hal Challis is already recycling his shower water and starting to dread Christmas. But this year there's something more - women abducted and murdered on the Old Highway, a pall of fear over the scorched paddocks. The media are demanding answers - and Challis' sleepy beat is set to explode.
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About the Author

Garry Disher grew up in South Australia. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short-story collection. A full-time writer for many years, he is the author of more than forty titles--fiction, children's books, anthologies, history textbooks, and books about the craft of writing. With considerable local and international success--including the prestigious German Crime Fiction Prize for Dragon Man--Disher is one of Australia's most exciting and diverse writers.

Garry Disher grew up in South Australia. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short-story collection. A full-time writer for many years, he is the author of more than forty titles--fiction, children's books, anthologies, history textbooks, and books about the craft of writing. With considerable local and international success--including the prestigious German Crime Fiction Prize for Dragon Man--Disher is one of Australia's most exciting and diverse writers.

Reviews

In small-town, southeastern Australia, Detective Inspector Challis and cohorts investigate a serial murderer preying on single women. Before the most recent victim is found, a local reporter receives a letter alluding to her death and to an expected next killing. The usual departmental complications ensue: public resentment of a hard-nosed constable, a problematic investigator who steals drugs for a new-found lover, a resident sex offender, and youngish vandals/burglars. Disher's solid prose connects the fascinating subplots, all centered on the fair-minded, airplane-restoring protagonist. A new award-winning Australian series for all collections. [Previewed in Mystery Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/04.] Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"An intelligent, atmospheric police procedural...Fans of such gritty yet cerebral crime novelists such as Ian Rankin and Jack Harvey should be well pleased." Publishers Weekly "The Dragon Man is unquestionably Disher's masterpiece, an astonishingly told caper that's tough, tender, poignant and totally captivating." Age "A straightforward police story with a terrific plot, nuanced characters and solid procedures, served up on refreshing new turf. Done with smooth, assured mastery." New York Times "Challis is a fine creation: strong and resourceful, yet with enough human frailty to satisfy the tastes of readers raised on Connelly, Rankin or Patricia Cornwell. This is intelligent, well-crafted fare, enlivened by a sharp awareness of society and the dark undercurrents beneath it." West Australian

The problem with reading lots of crime fiction is that, after a while, plots are easy to anticipate, murderers can be identified early in the text and protagonists often conform to the same character profile. This makes for frustrating reading, even if the avid reader has an enjoyable time setting `personal best' targets for how early in the text he or she guesses whodunit. Gary Disher's latest offering is one of these titles. This is unfortunate, as Disher is a classy writer whose prose deserves a better plot and whose main character deserves fleshing out. Set on Melbourne's Mornington Peninsula, The Dragon Man covers the investigation of a series of murder-rapes. The bodies of two young female victims have already been found and Detective Inspector Hal Challis and Sergeant Ellen Destry are out to find the person responsible before he strikes again. With a number of subplots, including the ubiquitous marriage on the rocks and a threat to one of the copper's loved ones, The Dragon Man keeps, rather than grips, the reader's attention. The first in a new series from the author of the Wyatt thrillers, let's hope that the Dragon Man's next case holds at least a few surprises. Virginia Maxwell is a Melbourne-based reviewer. C. 1999 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

Australian author Disher delivers an intelligent, atmospheric police procedural, the first of a new series. A serial killer targeting young women along the isolated Old Peninsula Highway has baffled Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his staff. Himself a resident of the Peninsula, as the locals call the sleepy "comma of land hooking into the sea south-east of Melbourne," Challis leads a solitary life. We soon learn that his wife Angela has spent the last seven years in prison for conspiring with her lover to murder him. Nicknamed "the dragon man," Challis in his spare time obsessively restores a vintage airplane, a Dragon Rapide. Indeed, as we meet the other police officers, it becomes clear that they're as interesting, not to mention as complex and morally ambiguous, as any of the criminals they seek. Pam Murphy, for instance, is an idealistic young constable recovering from a car crash and a nervous breakdown, and Sergeant Kees van Alphen raids the evidence locker for cocaine, which he trades for sex. Fans of such gritty yet cerebral crime novelists as Ian Rankin and Jack Harvey should be well pleased. (Aug. 15) Forecast: Disher's literary standing (his novel The Sunken Road was nominated for the Booker Prize), Soho's reputation for quality (a Soho title won the Edgar for Best First Novel this year) and increasing U.S. interest in foreign crime writers all bode well for sales. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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