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The Dragon Man

It's a scorching hot summer on the Mornington peninsula and the police are preparing for the usual holiday madness. But this time it s not just petty theft and joyriding kids. There's a killer on the Old Peninsula Highway and women alone aren't safe. Detective Inspector Hal Challis is up against it. The media are demanding to know what he plans to do about the killer, his colleagues are either giving trouble or in it, and his troubled past just won t leave him alone.
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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

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