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Gunshot Road: An Emily Tempest Investigation [Hardcover]

Adrian Hyland
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 1 2010 Emily Tempest Investigation
Praise for the Emily Tempest series:

"Beguiling first mystery . . . wonderful.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Startling turns of phrase, vivid Outback setting, and rich rendering of cultural differences. . . . All in all, the novel is a corker, engaging from page 1 and on through to an ending that pulls out all the stops.”—The Boston Globe

“A delightful, engaging book.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Perfect for mystery fans who are craving new horizons.”—Library Journal

“A hymn to the wit, courage, stark beauty and the power of dreaming of a unique people. One cannot help but be enriched by it.”—Anne Perry

Emily Tempest is appointed an aboriginal community police officer for the Moonlight Downs station. Investigating the possible murder of an elderly geologist, she encounters Danny, an emotionally fragile Stonehouse mob teenager who is traumatized by the image of “poison flowing green.” The terrain of Australia, a Japanese rock garden painter, a rash of unexplained illnesses, and the implausibility of two elderly friends killing each other present Emily with a unique puzzle.

Adrian Hyland won Australia’s 2007 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Novel for Moonlight Downs, published in Australia as Diamond Dove, which was also a Book Sense Notable book. He spent many years in the Northern Territory living and working among the indigenous people. He now teaches at La Trobe University and lives in Melbourne.

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Review

Praise for the Emily Tempest series:

"Beguiling first mystery . . . wonderful.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Startling turns of phrase, vivid Outback setting, and rich rendering of cultural differences. . . . All in all, the novel is a corker, engaging from page 1 and on through to an ending that pulls out all the stops.”—The Boston Globe

“A delightful, engaging book.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Perfect for mystery fans who are craving new horizons.”—Library Journal

“A hymn to the wit, courage, stark beauty and the power of dreaming of a unique people. One cannot help but be enriched by it.”—Anne Perry


From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Adrian Hyland won Australia's Ned Kelly 2007 Award for Best First Novel for Moonlight Downs. He spent many years in the Northern Territory living and working among the indigenous people. He now teaches at LaTrobe University and lives in Melbourne.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Emily Tempest is one tough gal March 8 2012
By L. J. Roberts TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
First Sentence: I closed my eyes, felt the ragged harmonies flowing through my head.

Emily Tempest's new career as an Aboriginal Community Police officer starts with a new, by-the-book boss and the murder of a scientist at the Green Swamp Well Roadhouse. Emily doesn't believe the man arrested is guilty. She believes his death had more to do with his research and sets out to find the real killer.

I enjoyed 'Gunshot Road', but not as much as the first book. I kept feeling as though there was a book missing between this and the first book in the series, as Emily's growth seems abrupt. What bothered me even more, the author seemed to assume the reader had read the first book as there was very little character development.

There are scenes that are very painful to read. While I understand one scene of Emily wanting to leave the hospital, there's the knowledge of the book being written by a man where the protagonist can go from beating to beating without needing time to recover. Some of the scenes seem a little too opportune.

I did like the spiritual aspect and inclusion of an environment issue, even though it slightly overwhelmed by the story. In fact, although I did like the book, I was disappointed it didn't focus more on Emily and felt both she, and the plot in general became lost in the book being a classic beat-up, car-chase, threaten-the-protagonist story.

While I enjoyed 'Gunshot Road', I don't know that I'll race out to buy the next book in the series.

GUNSHOT ROAD (Pol Proc-Emily Tempest-Australia-Contemp) ' G+
Hyland, Adrian ' 2nd in series
Soho Crime, 2010
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hillerman in the Australian outback July 19 2010
By Paul Jones Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Do you recall the excitement that came to you the first time you read a Tony Hillerman novel with his Navaho setting and thoughtful characters of the Four Corners area of the Southwest? His writing became formulaic over the years and the last books of the series lost some of their "zip", but the experience he created for the reader was powerful, as he blended fiction and setting to create memorable folks you almost expect to run into when driving on the reservation today.

Okay. With Adrian Hyland you get to have that initial glee of discovery all over again. I was intrigued by his first novel in this series. I'm a solid believer with the second. Great writing with powerful descriptions that take the reader into a world few of us have ever known. His lead character, Emily Tempest, is multi-dimensional and an inhabitant of two worlds of the Out Back. There is hard edged action and consequences for the persons walking the bleak, dried landscape of his setting. There are intriguing characters that you want to know better. There is the vibration of aboriginal spirituality humming always in the far background. You might anticipate the general direction of the plot, but the movement toward the conclusion is a great walk about.

I used every spare moment of two days to read this novel, and now I'm going to be haunting the internet for rumors of the next book of what I believe will be a long running and enjoyable series. I hope it does for the Australian Out Back what Hillerman did for the Southwest. And I will anticipate that the "zip" will keep me reading for a while.

Adrian Hyland, thank you. I highly recommend this series to the mystery reader who enjoys experiencing another culture and another way of seeing the world as basic human motivations set up inevitable nasty conflicts and harms that must be resolved.

Its a top shelf read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you haven't tasted a book written by Adrian Hyland, you've been missing a banquet. June 18 2010
By Cathy G. Cole - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First Line: I closed my eyes, felt the ragged harmonies flowing through my head.

Working as an Aboriginal Community police officer, the half-Aboriginal, half-white Emily Tempest is working the harsh land of northern Australia. It doesn't take long for her to encounter her first dead body-- an old prospector she knew as a child. Trouble is, her boss has already figured out who the murderer is and wants Emily to mind her own business and work the night shift in town like a good little Abo girl. Emily believes the old prospector-- and the man they have thrown in prison--deserve much better than that, and she goes her own way, conducting her own investigation. Emily has never been afraid of getting into a fight, but during the course of her travels along Gunshot Road, she finds the hard knocks to be much worse than she'd anticipated.

This is an excellent follow-up to Hyland's first book, Moonlight Downs (published elsewhere as Diamond Dove). Emily is most definitely an amateur detective; she leads with her heart instead of her head, and she has a tendency to make mistakes. If she's lucky, the mistakes aren't painful, but she's not always lucky. In fact, if you have a strong aversion to violence against women, there is one scene in this book that you will want to avoid. For that matter, Emily's world is dirty and rough. People don't always bathe as often as they should, they use whatever language they feel like using, and violence is often a way of life. Expect grit and realism as you read about Emily.

Having a foot in two worlds, Emily has reaped some of the benefits of the white world: she has furthered her education, and she is a world traveler. However, she cannot and will not ignore injustice, especially to the Aboriginal people among whom she spent her childhood.

Each character in this book seems to fit perfectly into the hot and dusty land, and as much as I enjoy Hyland's plot, pacing and characters, one of the main reasons why I love his books is because of the landscape. It reminds me of my own chosen one:

"I wasn't paying a huge amount of attention to the road, I admit-- a nasty habit I've acquired since coming back out bush. Sometimes I even read while I'm driving. Nothing heavy, mind you-- crime, perhaps, maybe a magazine. I'm not the only culprit, I'm sure. Meeting another vehicle out here is an event of such magnitude you tend to get out and talk about it."

Like the Australian Outback, there are places here in the Arizona desert where you can drive all day long and never meet another living soul outside of a snake and a lizard or two. If you do meet someone out in this vast emptiness, you acknowledge each other. You are no longer in the city, and anonymity can get you killed. Although Hyland's territory is an exotic one, it does feel familiar to me even if I don't always understand the lingo.

Story, pacing, characters, setting... these are four very important things to any book, but Hyland adds yet another element that makes his writing stand out: the Aboriginal culture. As much as I enjoyed this book, one sentence engraved itself on my mind because it voices something I've felt for a long time without ever putting it into words: "He bin say you not from here. You move too fast: more better you slow down, take time for the country to know you."

Take time for the country to know you. In Gunshot Road, that is important advice from a people who have learned to live in rhythm with a very special land. Outside of Gunshot Road it is excellent advice for us all to follow.

If you haven't tasted a book written by Adrian Hyland, you've been missing a banquet.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You can kick us and kill us and drown us in bible and booze, but you better get used to us because we're not going away." Jan. 27 2012
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Newly appointed Aboriginal Community Police Officer Emily Tempest has returned to her roots in Bluebush in northern Australia after more than ten years studying and traveling abroad. The daughter of Motor Jack, a white geologist/gold prospector and an aborigine mother, she grew up in her mother's culture until she was a teenager and has always felt more comfortable there. Having returned to live with "her" people when she is in her twenties, she continues to resent the intrusions of the "civilized" white world and the damage it has caused to the natural world venerated by the aborigines.

Hyland himself spent many years living and working with the indigenous people in the Northern Territories, and he vividly recreates aborigine family life, which is still nomadic and hand-to-mouth in many communities. The young people are easily attracted to alcohol and drugs, readily available in towns, more than they are to the traditional values of their elders, and the unemployment rate is stratospheric. In this second novel in the Emily Tempest series, little seems to have changed in the racial attitudes of the "whitefellers" toward the aborigines, with many police investigations, as Emily quickly sees, guided more by what investigators still expect than by what any evidence actually shows.

A smart woman, as hard as the local rocks and geological strata that have attracted opportunistic miners from all over the world, Emily can also be as quixotic and mysterious as the spirits which she and her people believe move in and out of their lives, keeping the forces of nature in balance. Filled with atmosphere, local color, and nonstop action, the novel opens with a gruesome attack at Green Swamp Well, in which a drunk, elderly prospector is found with his hammer embedded in his throat. Another prospector, also drunk, found asleep near the body, is arrested. When Emily discovers that the dead man is Doc, an old friend of her father whom she has known since childhood, and that the supposed killer is Wireless, another old friend, she is determined to help.

Hyland does not sugar-coat any aspect of life in the outback. His characters are coarse, and the action and language are sometimes even coarser. Shootings, explosions, rock falls, attempted murders, a brutal rape, and chase scenes take place even as the author is raising questions about conservation, environmental threats, and the serious problems facing indigenous communities. Aspects of the supernatural, and characters' occasional dream sequences, exist side-by-side with earthy scenes of brutality and ignorance. The novel wanders freely, introducing such a variety of different characters, their interactions, and subplots that it is sometimes difficult to identify the main themes and main plot line. Even Emily herself is sometimes so unpredictable in her behavior that she is difficult to figure. Still, for those interested in this fascinating setting and its close-up on those aborigines who must exist in close proximity to a completely alien world and way of life, it offers new insights and understandings and does so with enthusiasm and respect. Mary Whipple

Moonlight Downs (An Emily Tempest Investigation)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive novel with a strong and original voice July 22 2012
By Jim Napier, mystery & crime fiction reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Winner of Australia's Ned Kelly Award for Best First Novel (2007's Moonlight Downs), Adrian Hyland has served up a crackerjack tale combining raw, fast-paced action set against the stark landscape of rural Australia. Gunshot Road is pure Outback Noir, a gritty sequel set in the Australian boonies, and featuring the weirdest collection of misfits, oddballs and villains this side of an asylum, but apparently not all that unusual in the land of Down Under. Emily Tempest is an Aboriginal woman just beginning her career as a Community Police Officer when she is assigned to a team investigating the body of an elderly prospector in a remote village, a geologist's hammer protruding from his skull. The suspect of choice is a cantankerous mate of his, one John Vincent Petherbridge. Nicknamed `Wireless' due to his nonstop conversational skills, he's admitted to the crime, saying it was due to an argument they'd been having over Xeno's Paradox. Not unreasonably, Tempest has her doubts: a dispute over a long-dead philosopher seemed a stretch as a cause for murder, even in the Australian Outback. But the ranking officer on the case is anxious to wrap things up, and it's clear that Emily must marshall her own resources if she is to pursue things further. Both a rookie and a loner, she soon finds herself in well over her head. If you are contemplating a trip to Down Under, the mayhem that ensues could cause you to seriously revisit your travel plans.

Heavily steeped in aboriginal ritual and beliefs, expertly combined with a fine sense of narrative, Gunshot Road is an impressive novel with a strong and original voice. Like the landscape from which it springs, it is long on earthy language and explicit violence, and will appeal to readers in search of a refreshing take on the world of crime fiction.

--Jim Napier, Professional crime fiction reviewer and creator of the award-winning website [...]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Half a cop, with a whole lot of attitude Nov. 17 2011
By Patto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Emily Tempest, half Aborigine and half white, has just been hired as Aboriginal Community Police Officer. She can only arrest people, can't shoot them, so she's not a full-fledged cop. But she hopes to be helpful to her people. Her outfit reflects her half-status. Cop shirt on top and her own skirt on bottom, since the pants they gave her are way too big.

I already knew Emily from Moonlight Downs, first book in the series, so I wondered how such an outspoken Outback rebel could ever make it on the force. My doubts increased (deliciously) as her new boss turns out to be a stone-faced hardliner, not the wonderful cop who hired her.

The plot follows a continual flouting of decorum and procedure by Emily, who complicates everything. Where the cops see an open-and-shut murder case, she sees unanswered questions. Violent acts that look random to the cops strike her as being interconnected. I won't mention any specifics so you can be freshly perplexed, shocked and shaken as events unfold.

There's a fascinating geological substratum in the book. The murder victim is a crack-brained old man doing geological research. Emily knows about rocks, by upbringing and education. And the Aborigines have a strong, mystical connection to the earth.

I loved the rambunctious writing style. The air at Transport & Works is "thick with diesel fuel and testosterone." A pastor looks like "a fish in spectacles." A cop has "breath like refried sump oil." Fun nicknames abound too - like Magpie, Wishy, Wireless and Megahead.

I'd definitely recommend Gunshot Road to readers who like feisty investigators, zany metaphors and exotic settings.
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