Joe Cashin is a wounded homicide detective. While he recovers from injuries incurred during a botched stake-out in Melbourne, he’s been sent run the small police station in his home town of Port Monro on the Victorian coast. It all seems a far cry from Melbourne: a typical day in Port Munro might include a neighbourhood dispute over a tree, a vandalised park bench and a woman with a black eye who wants her husband warned.
But the tempo quickly increases when a wealthy local resident, Charles Bourgoyne is found dead, with his expensive Breitling watch missing. Senior Detective Hopgood from the town nearby believes that the local Aboriginal community is responsible for the murder. Politicians become involved and racial tensions flare, especially after two boys die in avoidable and regrettable circumstances.
Cashin is put in charge of the investigation: why, and by whom, was Charles Bourgoyne killed? Is the local Aboriginal community involved and is it possible to get beyond the suspicion between the communities in order to find out the truth? At the same time as he is investigating Charles Bourgoyne’s murder, Joe Cashin is dealing with some issues of his own. Will he be able to rebuild his home with the help of the itinerant Rebb? Can he revisit the past without becoming lost in it?
‘Being alive’s a present,’ said Rebb. ‘Every minute of every hour of every day.’
I picked this novel up on the recommendation of a friend, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The themes include a number of big issues such as police corruption and Aboriginal politics, but there are other twists and turns to negotiate. It’s a very Australian novel in setting and presentation, but the events portrayed could happen anywhere. Sadly.Read more ›
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, delightful, magicalJune 27 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
I am glad Harriet Klausner liked this book, but I feel that her description may not give readers quite the right idea. Peter Temple is a truly extraordinary writer. This book has all the pleasures of the best crime fiction (if you like Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Robert Crais, this is a good choice), but it's also written in the most extraordinarily beautiful prose style, with a kind of simplicity and clarity and intelligence that's sort of like what you might get if you crossed Proust with Hemingway and picked only the best of the litter to keep. The Australian settings are also strange and magical--not just crime fiction fans but pretty much anyone who cares about novels should be reading Temple's stuff.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Crackling Dialogue, Terrific ReadApril 24 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
This is my first attempt at Peter Temple. What a truly welcome find this book was. The writing is first rate. Also, difficult to do, but handled with ease was the way author's wove flashback information into the storyline.
This is one special detective story and puts Temple in a class with the best from these authors - Peter Robinson, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, John Sanford. I can't tell from the DJ, but it seems that the detective, Joe Cashin, is a newly introduced character and he comes with a ton of baggage - ala Harry Bosch. But that is what makes the storyline intriguing. Joe Cashin is very unique man and carries much emotional and psychological damages from the past. That past is beautifully revealed one peel of the onion at a time.
Interesting is the racial tension that is portrayed between the Aboriginal people and the Police. Sometimes we tend to think that is a unique social situation just in the U.S. But here sparks fly and tempers mount in a seaside resort town that makes the seasonal switch from beautiful to ugly as fall gives in to winter. The author is able to pull the reader into the surroundings beautifully.
The characters that surround Cashin are so lifelike that the story reads like non fiction.
The author is Australian and therefore the prose is riddled with colloquialisms that are a little difficult to understand. There is a glossary in the back that will help the first time reader.
This is a wonderfully written piece of literature that happens to be a murder mystery.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Peter Temple is a bargain: two great writers (crime, fiction) in oneMarch 1 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Peter Temple is two of the best writers I know.
He's the best novelist writing about crime in Australia, and considering how each of his books wins several awards, he's arguably one of the best crime writers on the planet.
And then he's a terrific novelist, period. Chapters are scenes. Sentences are packed with relevant information, delivered with a style so crisp every word crunches: "She was no more than fifteen, dark hair, pretty, it wouldn't last." He knows every last thing about his characters ("Tired in the trunk, hurting in the pelvis, pains down his legs, he swallowed two aspirins with the first swig of beer") and his setting ("peaty sod the color of chocolate when plowed"). And can he deliver a tale? In 340 pages, he can weave strands as diverse as racism, corruption, big money, family loyalty and personal kinks into a credible story.
Come for the crime, stay for the pure pleasure of reading.
I first encountered Peter Temple a few years ago, when I stumbled into Identity Theory and reeled out dazzled by plotting that was intricate without being confusing, characters so real I thought I was reading non-fiction, and dialogue that was always original but never mannered. Talent? To burn. But also a ferocious commitment to quality: "I fiddle endlessly with the prose, trying to catch speech rhythms, removing words, trying to find what can be left unsaid, trying to capture the look and the feel and the mood of a place."
For a day or so, I thought I could figure out how I could steal Temple's style. What a deluded ambition! Peter Temple owns a franchise, and with each book, he seems to move the bar higher.
Take The Broken Shore, his most recent novel. It starts with Joe Cashin, a police detective currently assigned to a small town near Melbourne, responding to a widow's distress call. Her trouble suggests the scale of local malfeasance --- someone's in her shed.
Cashin apprehends the man, inspects his clearly bogus decade-old identification.
"Could be a murderer," the widow suggests. "Killer. Dangerous killer."
It's a small moment, but let's appreciate the accuracy. That is, the widow's reaction. The way she talks. And Cashin's reaction: He drives the man to a bigger road.
And then this, watching the man walk away, "swag horizontal across his back, sticking out. In the morning mist, he was a stubby-armed cross walking."
A throwaway moment? Yes. Gorgeous? Very.
And, of course, ten pages later, there is a murder. Charles Bourgoyne, old and rich. His assistant, Cashin realizes, is cousin to a kid he went to school with. What happened to him?
"Dead," she said. "Drove his truck off a bridge thing near Benalla. Overpass." "I'm sorry. Didn't hear about that." "He was a deads--t, always drugged up. I'm sorry for the people in the car he landed on, squashed them." She found cigarettes, offered. He wanted one. He said no.
This cross-cutting between the personal and the professional is not just the literary pattern of "The Broken Shore" --- it's the subject. The novel is set on Australia's "Blue Balls Coast," where tourism is the dream of the future and not much happens. The murder might have a bit to do with land development; it might also involve the theft of a Breitling watch. It definitely involves kids from the slums, an Aboriginal politician and the usual assortment of bent cops who sell the drugs they confiscate. And what are we to think about surveillance that ends in a shootout because Cashin was assigned --- might have been assigned --- a car with a faulty radio?
Even the minor characters get their moment, There's a lawyer who once, in school, kissed Cashin, and now, as his new neighbor, kisses him again. The barista is a former dentist whose lover --- whose male lover --- was knifed to death in a park, "possibly by policemen." And these detailed memories go way back --- Cashin recalls, as a boy, learning to surf on a board with a big chunk missing. "Shark. Chewed the bloke in half."
In "The Broken Shore," lives get chewed in half too. But not dreams. On this quiet, seemingly idyllic coast, they died long ago. Read it and weep --- and, also, cheer.
29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Windswept and atmosphericAug. 19 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Joe Cashin is a Homicide Detective who has been reassigned from Melbourne in Australia to his quiet coastal hometown after a near brush with death on the job. He is investigating the killing of a high profile local businessman. Initially clues point to local Aboriginal boys and after a shoot out with police leaves two of the three suspects dead, the case seems closed. But Cashin feels guilty about the shoot out and is unconvinced about the conclusions being drawn, so he keeps investigating.
This is an interesting and well written book that is part mystery, part social commentary and part character study. It is not a traditional crime novel and most certainly not a fast-paced thriller. Personally, I would have preferred more emphasis on solving the crime. (I also found the eventual solution to be pretty sordid and unpleasant - consider yourself warned.)
But the book is richer than a mere murder mystery. Peter Temple is a wonderful writer who uses words carefully and sparingly. Cashin is a complex and satisfying main character and the lesser characters are also rounded and interesting. I felt immersed in the remote seaside town and I was intrigued by the racial tensions.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Ian Rankin - I felt it was similar in style.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A compelling and gritty view of small-town AustraliaJune 25 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Although I have not recently read mysteries with the interest I once did, I am rediscovering why I once enjoyed them so - particularly the atmospheric novels of writers like Georges Simenon and Janwillem van de Wetering: Their books took me to the underside of Paris, in the former, and Amsterdam, in the latter, both places I knew and longed to know better.
Add to that list the Marseilles of Jean-Claude Izzo, the Pyongyang of James Church and now, deftly, the small-town Australia of Peter Temple.
In The Broken Shore detective Joe Cashin--wounded both physically and mentally--leads us through a grungy South Australia nothing like that touted in travelogues. Peopled with perverts, racists, druggies, thugs, thieves, opportunists and police from across the corruption spectrum--all acid-tongued--this dysfunctional quasi-rural purgatory vibrates with a believability not likely found in more polite Australian novels.
A good part of that plausibility rests in the sharp, darkly humorous, colloquial banter between characters, all seeming disgruntled. The rhythmic rendered dialogue is so pure Australian that the author has thoughtfully added a glossary to help Americans and other non-native speakers sort it all out. But it is the dialogue that distinguishes this novel, revealing the characters (for better or worse) and the culture (likewise).
In most all literature, setting determines character and character, in turn, determines plot. Same here, particularly in Joe Cashin. He is of the land and of the people, a people who at heart largely adhere to a moral code not as mobile as it might first appear. Cashin's inability to ignore that code--as much as he might want to or is counseled to--makes of him someone we root for and, in our better moments, identify with.
Though nominally a mystery, this is a well-crafted novel that has deservedly won awards, not only as a mystery but as a mystery novel qua novel.