Friday, February 11, 2011

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

The Broken Shore: A Novel

Australia shows up strongly in these pages, in the characters, in the vernacular. Detective Joe Cachin has seen a bit too much, but still has room in his heart for bad kids wrongly charged. When he pursues an open-and-shut case he uncovers horrors a small town has hidden a lifetime. Several lifetimes, it turns out.

The clipped style of short sentences and scraps of thought work well here with a busy, distracted cop allowing the case to build itself. Things seen and heard out of context begin to take on new meaning as the bits of information accumulate. Below I give you Peter Temple talking about his work, and American influences:
"I like American writing, in general. I'm an enthusiast for [Don] DeLillo, John Updike, Cormac McCarthy. And I grew up on James Hadley Chase, [Raymond] Chandler, Ross Macdonald. I've always loved the plots, the interest in the unveiling of secrets from the past and in the intricacies of families, which is distinctively American, invented by American writers. [I love] the gradual unearthing of things and the plodding from one thing to another that those writers, Macdonald in particular, did so well. And also, of course, there is the tradition of loner heroes, dysfunctionals who don't connect fully with society, who do what they do or they wouldn't get up in the morning." The full article can be read here.

Peter Temple is not well-known in the United States, but he has long sought a wider audience. Apparently his editors told him his work was "too Australian." I am here to say that can never be the case--the difference is the cachet, especially in this time of interconnectedness. If mysteries are your thing, and you have wondered about Australia, try this wonderful addition to the genre.

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