Review: Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher

9781925498882Garry Disher is one of the most reliable craftsmen in crime fiction, and his latest, Under the Cold Bright Lights, epitomises his talents. This is a smart police procedural, with satisfying twists and turns, and a vigilante cop readers will want to see return.

Alan Auhl has returned to the Victorian Police Department after a brief sabbatical to work cold cases with a team of young detectives. He’s very much set in his ways, the kind of cop who prefers to get off his arse and knock on doors than run computer searches and make inquiries by phone. As such, his colleagues have dubbed him a retread, but he doesn’t mind. With his marriage in tatters, the job gives Auhl focus, and the three unrelated cases he works — four if you count a personal vendetta — demonstrate his unparalleled tenacity . . . and willingness to bend, possibly break, the law he was sworn to protect.

Auhl lives in a large shared-house — he refers to it as Chateau Auhl — which he uses to provide shelter for strays, people down on their luck, in desperate need of aid. Two of those boarders include a battered wife and her ten-year-old daughter, who are entangled in legal proceedings that will determine custody of the girl. Which means Auhl’s private life is as complicated as his professional one, as he juggles the death of John Elphick, and the discovery of a skeleton beneath a concrete slab, and the doctor who has seemingly killed two wives without leaving a trace of evidence against him.

Free of the structural problems you might expect from juggling so many unrealted plots, Under the Cold Bright Lights is a brilliant demonstration of Garry Disher’s artistry. And the doses of vigilante justice add essential pep to proceedings, providing a shot of adrenaline just when you think the book might be gliding. Gripping and intelligent, Under the Cold Bright Lights is a crackling page-turner, and proof that Disher should be held in the same regard as his international contemporaries. Connelly and Rankin fans should devour this, and Disher’s extensive back catalogue.

ISBN: 9781925498882
Format: Paperback (231mm x 155mm x 25mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: The Text Publishing Company
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Publish Date: 30-Oct-2017
Country of Publication: Australia

Review: Signal Loss by Garry Disher

9781925355260.jpgHis long-running series re-branded “Peninsula Crimes,” Garry Disher’s seventh Challis and Destry novel is a fine police procedural. Its Mornington Peninsula setting makes for a refreshing break from the urban landscapes that dominate the genre, and Disher’s exploration of ice production and addiction in rural Australia is fittingly topical.

In Signal Loss, two plot threads weave around each other like a double helix, never intersecting, just occurring concurrently. The novel starts off with two hitmen being hired to eliminate a seemingly low-level target. They can’t quite understand why they’re being paid $50,000 for such an easy job, but who’re they to argue? It sounds like an easy job, in and out, easy as. But they didn’t count on the bush fire, which leaves both men dead, and the Mornington Peninsula police — Challis in particular — convinced the local ice epidemic has introduced some major big-city players. Meanwhile, Ellen Destry, in charge of the sex crime unit, is hunting a serial rapist who leaves no evidence behind.

The plot has its share of boilerplate elements, as all police procedurals do, but its the colourful cast of well-formed characters, with their distinct personalities, that makes Signal Loss so compelling. Readers who’ve yet to sample Disher’s Peninsula Crimes series shouldn’t be worried about coming in late in proceedings; this seventh book serves as a perfect introduction.

Disher’s crime novels are at the top of the genre’s food chain and Signal Loss is another well-crafted police procedural.

ISBN: 9781925355260
Format: Paperback (235mm x 158mm x 31mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: The Text Publishing Company
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Publish Date: 31-Oct-2016
Country of Publication: Australia

Review: The Heat by Garry Disher

Heat coverThe enigmatic, dangerous Wyatt returns in Garry Disher’s mile-a-minute crime novel The Heat.

Wyatt’s particular set of skills are becoming increasingly archaic. Gone are the days of bank heists and jewellery store robberies; advanced security measures are making it harder, and the goons are getting dumber, strung out on drugs or cocky idiots who hold their pistols sideways, thinking they’re the stars of their own action flicks. Wyatt, by comparison, is a dinosaur; but like everyone else, he needs to work, and thievery is the only profession he knows. So when a reliable contact offers him a job in Noosa to steal a painting for Hannah Sten, Wyatt accepts. It seems simple enough, and he’s done this plenty of times before; case the joint, determine escape routes and failsafes, develop a plan for every potential contingency. It’s a job that requires meticulousness, and that’s what Wyatt does best. But there’s more than one player in this game – and things go wrong very quickly.

Like the best Donald Westlake / Richard Stark Parker capers, Disher plays within the confines of the traditional heist story, and his muscular, hard-boiled prose with a distinct Australian flavour makes The Heatsomething to savour. Packed with nefarious characters, all with their own agendas and secrets, Disher weaves his tale with an assured hand. This is a fast-paced, taut crime story, rife with sharp dialogue and brutal violence. And while Wyatt’s not a character to be admired, he makes for compulsive reading.

With its high body count and intricate plotting, The Heat is perfect beach reading for the summer. Just make sure you pack sunscreen, because once you start, you won’t stop until you’ve turned its final page.

ISBN: 9781925240412
Format: Paperback (234mm x 155mm x 19mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: The Text Publishing Company
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Publish Date: 21-Oct-2015
Country of Publication: Australia