Sunday, February 24, 2013
The Dragon Man by Garry Disher
As I struggled to express my unease with the underlying story in this “crime” series, I came across an essay written by Stepan Talty for the New York Times called "Stranger Than Fiction on the Cop Beat". Talty goes right to the heart of my unease by saying that the real cop stories are often funny and horrible at the same time: “how beautiful and sinister a thing the cop brotherhood can be” is how he puts it. Just so. By that standard, Disher must be writing something very close to the truth because his description of the men and women of law enforcement leaves us unsure of them, of the criminals among us, and even of ourselves (the curious, the gawkers, the next-door-neighbors). There is a serial killer on The Peninsula, but it is the police that hold our attention and engage our emotions. The sense of dread is amplified by watching them.
A reviewer for a different book once wrote that some readers must like the characters they read about, or approve of their choices, or sympathize with their point of view, but not all novels will give us that. Well, this one won't. But readers who pick up a crime novel should expect, in some small way, to come away unsettled. This series looks like it will deliver.
Garry Disher has a long string of novels to his name and has received honors, awards and prizes, but this series has only been published in the United States beginning in 2004. There are now six books in the Challis series and U.S. publication is coming now at only a slight remove from publication in Australia. Disher discusses his books and provides an extract of the sixth Challis novel on his website. His female character Sergeant Ellen Destry began to take on a life of her own as the series progressed, so now the series can reasonably be called the Challis/Destry series.
Check it out. Australia without the bush has a different feel. Be prepared to be disconcerted.
You can buy this book here: Tweet