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Kittyhawk Down


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In Australian author Disher's gripping second police procedural (after 2004's The Dragon Man), Melbourne homicide detective Hal Challis contends with the pressure of two unsolved murders and his inability to sever all ties with his wife, Angela, who years earlier was convicted of conspiring to have him killed by her lover and remains a suicidal prison inmate. Challis's current relationship with journalist Tessa Kane gets put on hold after his wandering eye fixes on Janet "Kitty" Casement, an aerial photographer. When someone threatens Kitty's life, Challis enlists his team to probe a maze of connections involving a loan shark and a letter-writing crank known as the Meddler. As the story neatly advances from the viewpoints of characters both major and minor, Disher artfully employs misdirection to conceal the identity of the criminal targeting the photographer. Even unsympathetic figures like the Meddler and a lecherous, reactionary police officer come across as three-dimensional. While Disher is not yet in the same league as a Peter Robinson or an Ian Rankin, fans of those authors will find much to like in this dark whodunit. Agent, Jenny Darling (Australia). (July 6) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Kittyhawk Down is the second book from award-winning writer Garry Disher to feature cop Chal Harris, who first appeared in the excellent Dragon Man. Disher, as with his earlier Wyatt series, forsakes the mean streets of the big cities for the more rural setting of the Mornington Peninsula- greener but no less mean: the Flinders Floater has to be identified, a violent rapist has to be snared, there's three shotgun murders to solve, plus a spiralling drugs problem and lurking in the shadowy background, the unsolved murder of a young boy and the local white trash suspect. This is a dark, absorbing read and a bold move by Disher as he employs a multi-voiced third-person narrative. Harris, with many personal troubles of his own, is supported by a particularly human cast of fellow cops. However, this is to the detriment of the main character and I'd like Harris to play a greater role, particularly if future books are planned. The plot is nicely paced though and the chapters sport neat, rounded scenes that draw you in and keep you reading. Some of the loose ends are tied up rather too easily but there is still enough left at the end for a good twist. David Honeybone is editor of Crime Factory magazine. C. 2003 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

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