Hypnotic, laconic writing from Garry Disher. Another superb story featuring lone country Constable Paul Hirschhausen. In his 4WD police Toyota, Hirsch patrols hundreds of kilometres through a vast dusty landscape around the small town of Tiverton in South Australia.
The plot weaves in and out of his long days on duty encountering misdemeanours ranging from wayward teenagers to rural theft and murder where nothing is as it seems.
The first killings are shocking (not telling who or what but it’s emotional) and expertly told through the eyes of Hirsch and his inner monologue. I love this single POV approach. The next murders involve a family, and two young girls disappear. In steps sensible Sergeant Brandl of Redruth HQ as well as Sydney’s Organised Crime Squad senior sergeant Roesch and Homicide Squad senior constable Hansen, two insensitive characters, and things get very tricky indeed.
The hot dry rural atmosphere seeps into every chapter, and unforced dialogue runs throughout the story. The town’s characteristics and characters are spot-on, for example annoying citizen Martin Gwynne, and recluse Craig Washburn who lives in a caravan near a dried-up creek bed. And who is spray-painting graffiti on an historical woolshed?
There’s a bit of romance with girlfriend Wendy Street although I do find her background role passive and uncomfortably supportive of Hirsch without any commitment on his part. I would like to see her become more prominent in future books in the series.
On a positive note, ‘Peace’ does cover community matters and domestic welfare, all part of Hirsch’s extensive remit.
I enjoyed the touches of wry humour and Christmas festivities including Hirsch’s role as Santa. The book title comes from “In the end he found three generic snowscapes with the single word Peace inside. That’s all a cop wants at Christmas, he thought.” If only he could be warned of what’s to come…
Certain people seem to think Hirsch bungles everything he touches. Well, he does bungle a couple of things and gets hauled in to explain, but when it comes to detective work he has a keen eye. Hirsch knows that nothing is random, everything means something.
See if you can untangle the threads before he does, bearing in mind that you are reading in a nice comfortable chair.
So far, my favourite read for new year 2020!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Garry Disher was born in Burra, South Australia, in 1949 and he’s the author of over fifty books, from crime fiction and children’s literature to non-fiction text books and handbooks.
Disher graduated with a Masters degree in Australian History at Monash University and was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University in California. He later taught creative writing before becoming a full-time writer, winning numerous awards both in Australia and overseas.
TRIVIA: Redruth Gaol exists in Burra, South Australia, but author Garry Disher could possibly have named Tiverton after a homestead on the Yunta Creek or the town of Riverton in South Australia.