When I read a good book by an author whose work I always enjoy, it is hard for me to express my thoughts without going overboard so I tried to apply self-restraint with Garry Disher’s ‘Consolation’ and hope I convey my message. For the full impact, I suggest you read the first two books but Tiverton’s only police officer Constable Paul ‘Hirsch’ Hirschhausen conveys his job and lifestyle with great clarity so this story can stand alone.
Constable Hirsch does a huge amount of driving given the vast distances of his country South Australian beat. He is calm, diplomatic, intelligent, sensitive, and has a lovely woman in his life. Several threads run throughout the story; Hirsch gets stalked, good characters die, ordinary people are murdered and baddies steal money. Not as mundane as it sounds. For starters who are the goodies and who are the baddies? There is more going on than I first thought.
This story is populated by a fair amount of unstable people, at the very least people with problems. The Ayliffe family are atop the big-problems tree. They snake in and out of the plot, stealing from homesteads, frightening farmers, bent on their own personal rampage. Hirsch moves ever forward, ever thinking, trying to stay one step ahead, or picking up the pieces after another tragic crime has been committed.
Hirsch knows the land better than the city cops sent to help in their black SUVs with matching attitudes. A high wind chill factor features throughout, rain turns the roads to mud and cars bog, naturally conditions are not conducive to high speed chases. Also, someone is nicking knickers from ladies clotheslines, and elaborate extortion schemes are in play with devastating repercussions, each investigated by Hirsch with Redruth police back-up.
There are tough themes: child abuse, parental negligence, childcare system. The abuse of the elderly, not so much physical but extortion, dishonesty and controlling behaviour. The harsh reality of criminal behaviour, and its impact on Constable Hirsch’s rural beat, is an immersive experience. He combats the weather on his early morning foot patrols. Quote “There was ice everywhere on Thursday morning. Hirsch tramped the streets of Tiverton in the saw-teeth of another frost.”
Author Disher’s rural characters have personality, and naturally not all are good honest citizens so it is gratifying when they are caught. The master of Hirsch’s POV, Garry Disher is also the master of the neat transition. Instead of slowing down the action, backstory came when “As Hirsch reconstructed it later…” so important, so human.
An absorbing story with everything unfolding in an almost lyrical flow of actions and emotions, and a series well worth reading.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Text publication date: 3rd November 2020
AU Price: $32.99
NZ Price: $38.00
Categories: Crime & Thriller, Rural Police, Australian, Fiction
Happily I only spied one typo on page 368 when “Vikki Bastian, who’d had been on her knees flicking…” GBW.
Garry Disher has published fifty titles across multiple genres. He has won multiple German Crime Prize and Ned Kelly awards, including the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award. To quote from Text Publishing interview “The dryness, the heat, the sense of space and the sparseness of human presence inform every page and drive every action. It is a quintessentially Australian setting for a quintessentially Australian subgenre of crime – it’s been dubbed ‘rural noir’ and Garry Disher is one of its pioneers. In fact, without him, it might not exist at all. Farming country in the mid-north of South Australia is where Garry Disher grew up, and although he hasn’t lived there for years, the area still holds a special place in his heart…”