Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Broken Shore

by Peter Temple.

This is so much more than a crime novel. The Broken Shore has won a slew of awards, including the CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger, and so it should.

Peter Temple is a master at creating characters with depth and appeal, and who ring true in all their tics and flaws. Even the minor players and cameos are exquisitely drawn with often a few scant words. I think his skill with dialogue is what makes his people real, in what they say, and what they don't say. He allows his male characters a complex emotional life, which makes Cashin an unforgettable man. This all with in the setting of a novel that rips along at great pace and compels you, no forces you to read on.

Joe Cashin is a Port Monro detective, recuperating from major injuries sustained in the course of duty. When an elderly pillar of society is brutally murdered in his home, Cashin in brought into investigate with the local Cromarty police. They follow leads from a watch missing from the victim, but when an operation to bring in potential suspects goes horribly wrong a torrent of racial tensions and discontent boils over.

Peter Temple is a South African living in Australia, and it is clear that he has observed and absorbed the attitudes, positive and negative towards the aboriginal people. In The Broken Shore he captures the inter-racial tension, inter-family posturing, political maneuvering, small mindedness, and small town mentalities. He pokes at the seedy underbelly of society and makes it twitch. He also captures the harshness of the Australian landscape and and how that in turn can create earthy, hard people.

This is a stunning book, and one that I will re-read - and I very rarely re-read fiction books.


Kerrie said...

Did you realise that THE BROKEN SHORE has been nominated for the Martin Beck (Swedish) award Vanda? Supposedly decided on Nov 30. There's a link in the headlines on my blog.

You might be interested in http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/2008/01/peter-temple-comes-out-tops.html and http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/2008/01/ozmysteryreaders-best-for-2007.html too

Peter Rozovsky said...

I may reread The Broken Shore. Temple may be the best prose stylist writing crime fiction in English.

It's a interesting coincidence that Kerrie should happen to have posted here before I did. I was going to recommend oz mystery readers. One of the members, I believe Kerrie herself, recently linked to her review of Overkill, and I thought you might want to look into the site and maybe gather yourself a few more readers in Australia.

Detectives Beyond Borders
“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”

Vanda Symon said...

Don't you just love the blogosphere! Yes, Kerrie's my port of call for Aussie crime, and Peter's my port of call for the US. Thanks guys.