Yes, it’s New Year’s Day, I know, but I figured I should just keep this Catapult list rolling along, despite the holiday. If you’re visiting on January 1, thanks, & Happy New Year!
Truth by Peter Temple
Of Peter Temple’s previous eight books, five have won the Ned Kelly Award for best Australian crime novel, essentially solidifying him as the master of Aussie crime fiction. (Broken Shore, a Book Catapult “Notable Notable” in 2007, won the CWA Gold Dagger, the Colin Roderick Award, and the Australian Book Industry Award. Not bad shakes.) Truth was the winner of the 2009 Miles Franklin Award – essentially the National Book Award for Australia.
The truth is, Truth is complicated. This is a good thing, a great thing – Temple is his country’s most-decorated crime novelist for good reason & he’ll definitely keep you on your toes. Truth blazes with a raw, searing intensity that drives his detective Stephen Villani forward as if there were a raging firestorm at his back. In fact, there is – the outback is ablaze, forcing a blistering, miserably dry heat into the city of Melbourne.
In his office, Gavan Kiely gone to Auckland, Villani switched on the big monitor, muted, waited for the 6:30 p.m. news, unmuted.
A burning world – scarlet hills, grey-white funeral plumes, trees exploding, blackened vehicle carapaces, paddocks of charcoal, flames sluicing down a gentle slope of brown grass, the helicopters’ water trunks hanging in the air.
With this furnace as a backdrop, Villani’s multiple cases merge and blend into each other, braiding political corruption with scenes of horrific violence on the uneasy city streets. As his marriage crumbles and his teenaged daughter takes up with a tattoo-faced drug dealer, Villani must negotiate the inept bureaucracy that is Australian law enforcement and the political iron curtain that seems to block his path at every turn to tie his cases together in time. My advice would be to read this slowly – soak in the great regional vernaculars, the sharp, tense dialogue, and keep an eye on as many characters as you can – they all play a part by the end. This is the best, most intricate crime novel I’ve read since…I honestly don’t know when – it’s that good.