Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

I have the same complaint about this book that I had about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: I don’t like to read about gruesome painful deaths and I don’t like to read about sex crimes. That aside, this was an excellent book; the unpleasant parts were easily skimmed. I have read very few books set in Australia, not for lack of trying. They are hard to find, though maybe I haven’t been looking in the right places. I was grateful for the slang dictionary in the back which defined terms such as “ute” (pickup truck, short for utility vehicle) and “servo” (gas station).

This is a traditional police procedural starring the traditional burned-out cop. The fact that it is set on the coast of Australia made it different enough to hold my interest. The fictional town of Port Monro is populated mostly by low-life burnouts and working stiffs in the winter, and in the summer by affluent city folk in their multi-million dollar “cottages.” An impoverished aboriginal settlement just outside of town adds to the tension. The groups collide over a murder and a resort development project which may or may not be related.

The racism and segregation in this book remind me of an earlier era in the U.S. I don’t know enough about Australian race relations to know whether the attitudes in this book are typical of modern Australia or are isolated small town events. I’m curious about that.

(Book 3, 2009)


Anonymous said...

The pleasing thing about Peter Temple's writing is that he is one of life's great observers. So much of what he writes is exactly what happens and race relations are still poor in many many places. The segregation is not institutionalized, but there is a feeling of separateness in how areas can come to be populated, hence it is not necessarily overt, but it is there.

Serena said...

I don't mind police procedurals too much...I have not read this or the Girl with the Dragon tattoo yet.

You may want to stay away from Breathing Out the Ghost by Kirk Curnutt, though it is an excellent novel dealing with the harsh emotions following child abduction and murder.

Becky Holmes said...

Serena, thanks, I think I will skip that.

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