A wonderful police procedural in remote Australia…
Consolation is the first mystery I’ve read by Garry Disher, and I’m glad I did. I received an advance review copy of this title from the publisher, and going in, I didn’t have much idea of what to expect. What I found was a very very nice, tightly written police procedural that kept me reading late into the night, and then again early the next morning!
Paul Hirschhausen (“Hirsch”) is a one-man police operation in a small town on the edges of the Flinders Ranges in Australia. He seems to have been sent here as punishment for some unclear (in this book, at least) issues in his past. But by now he has settled in pretty well, and I didn’t feel as I was missing out on any info from his past that I needed to understand what was going on. Instead, there is a pretty good set of current cases for him to tackle, ranging from an underwear thief (apparently called a snowdropper in Australia ?!?!) to a case of child abuse to some financial chicanery to a pair of survivalists on the run. Oh yeah, and a potential stalker in his personal life.
In the best traditions of police procedurals, Hirsch does a nice job of juggling all these cases. I really liked the way that Disher shows how difficult some of Hirsch’s decisions can be, especially since he is often out in remote territory on his own. In one example, he’s helping a badly injured person when he hears a gunshot off in the direction of the “bad guys”. Should he leave to go see if someone else has been hurt even worse, or stay with the person he knows is hurt? Either choice is probably bad…
I also really enjoyed Disher’s descriptions of the countryside around Hirsch’s home base of Tiverton. Sometimes his descriptions are almost poetic (e.g. “rain-shadow country trying to be green”), and I found myself reading more slowly just to be able to enjoy them. Now I really want to visit this area someday! In some ways, Disher’s descriptions, and the remote countryside itself, remind me of Tony Hillerman’s descriptions of the American southwest in his Leaphorn/Chee series, which I also like a lot.
Finally, I enjoyed learning some Australianisms, like “snowdropper” above. I was especially amused by Hirsch’s “second breakfasts” – a meal that I had only heard of before when Pippin memorably complained about missing it in the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
All-in-all, I highly recommend Consolation. My thanks again to Text Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy. And I personally will be looking for more of Disher’s titles to read – including/especially the first two books in this series!