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Peter Temple is likely the most decorated author you've never read, or maybe never even heard of before. Consider that this novel won him his fifth Ned Kelly Award for crime fiction in Australia as well as the Colin Roderick Prize for best Australian book, the Australian Book Publishers' Award for best general fiction, and the UK Crime Writers Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger. And yet while the book was originally published in 2005 it is just now coming out here in the States. It's strange, British authors--especially crime authors--sell as well or better here as at home, but Aussies, writing likewise in English seem not to show up on the radar. Similarly, while PBS, A&E, etc. are rotten with British crime shows, there are at least two Australian series--Halifax, f.p. and City Homicide--that would do quite well here but have yet to turn up on our shores.

At any rate, while Mr. Temple is particularly noted for his Jack Irish series, The Broken Shore features a big city homicide detective, Joe Cashin, who is recuperating from serious injuries while working out of a small police station in Port Munro, on the Southeast coast of Australia. He'd grown up there and for therapy is fixing up a dilapidated homestead that an ancestor had let fall into ruin. He lives alone there but for his dogs and drinks himself to sleep each night reading the great books and listening to opera that a nurse had turned him on to while he was in the hospital. He's estranged from the girlfriend with whom he has a son, barely talks to his closeted brother, and tries to avoid his mother, who raised the boys in itinerant fashion after their father died.

His quiet is broken though when a wealthy local landowner is beaten to death during what appears to be a botched robbery. Then when three Aborigines are being arrested for the crime the local police gun two down before Cashin arrives on the scene. Joe has to deal with his own suspicions that the boys may have been innocent, with brutal and racist fellow officers, with a liberal politician who makes the case into a cause, and with a beautiful lawyer for a suspect who he had a crush on when they were kids. All that in addition to the underlying case, which seems like it may instead be related to a business deal for the estate.

All of the various characters are fleshed out nicely, along with Cashin's Aboriginal partner on the case and the mysterious swagman he "hires" to help with repairs. It's kind of sad how emotionally dependent he becomes on the latter, who has no desire to be tied down to steady work and lodging, despite Joe's entreaties. But nowhere near as sad as the racial animus towards the "Abo's" that permeates the book. The solution to the mystery is a tad more standard--even stock--than what's come before would lead us to anticipate. But it's satisfying nonetheless and doesn't detract from the rich characterization and social concerns the rest of the very fine book is built around.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Peter Temple Links:

    -Temple, Peter (AustLit)
    -Peter Temple (Wikipedia)
    -AUTHOR SITE: Peter Temple (MacMillan)
    -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Peter Temple (Australian Crime Fiction Database)
    -ETEXTS: Peter Temple (Google Books)
    -READING GROUP GUIDE: The Broken Shore
    -INTERVIEW: with Peter Temple (Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub and Wiley Saichek, November 25, 2005, Bookreporter)
    -INTERVIEW: Football, Horse-racing, Cabinet- making (not to mention the occasional prize for crime fiction) (Bob Cornwell, 2007, Tangled Web)
    -INTERVIEW: Lies, Lies, and Videotape (David Honeybone, April 2002, January Magazine)
    -INTERVIEW: with Peter Temple (Ayo Onatade , Shots)
    -INTERVIEW: Crafting murder: Peter Temple + Michael Robotham (Ramona Koval, 7/25/08, ABC Book Show)
    -INTERVIEW: Australian Crime Fiction Snapshot - Peter Temple (Crime Down Under, 3/04/08)
    -AWARD: Australian wins top crime-writing prize (Dan Harrison, July 6, 2007, The Age)
    -AWARD: Peter Temple wins the Duncan Lawrie Dagger (Advance, JULY 5 2007)
    -AWARD: Peter Temple wins crime writing prize (Sydney Morning Herald, July 6, 2007)
    -REVIEW: of The Broken Shore by Peter Temple (Sue Turnbull, The Age)
    -REVIEW: of The Broken Shore (Patrick Anderson, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of The Broken Shore (Cath Staincliffe, Tangled Web)
    -REVIEW: of The Broken Shore (Sudheer Apte, Mostly Fiction)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: The Broken Shore (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Broken Shore (Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Broken Shore (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Broken Shore (Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Broken Shore (Jack Batten, Toronto Star)
    -REVIEW: of Bad Debts by Peter Temple (Bob Cornwell, Tangled Web)
    -REVIEW: of Bad Debts (Ian Morson, Tangled Web)
    -REVIEW: of Shooting Stars by Peter Temple (Bob Cornwell, Tangled Web)

Book-related and General Links: