Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He's still new in town but the community work-welfare checks and working bees-is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch's life has been peaceful.
Until he's called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.
Suddenly, it doesn't look like a season of goodwill at all.
- Publication Date:
- 04 / 08 / 2020
Brilliant Australian crime fiction - read it!
This was another strong instalment in Garry Disher's Paul Hirschhausen series, set in a small rural South Australian town, Tiverton.
Disher captures the essence of small-town country Australia, both as a setting and in terms of characters. Constable Hirschhausen's travels to carry out "welfare checks" and investigate minor criminal matters throughout his wide jurisdiction bring him into contact with all sorts - farming families struggling to maintain a livelihood, juvenile delinquents, charming ratbags, lost tourists, the list goes on.
But in the days before Christmas, things turn darker... Several miniature horses owned by local personality Nancy "Nan" Washburn are attacked for reasons unknown. Then Hirsch carries out a welfare check on an isolated property on Christmas morning and finds two bodies. It becomes apparent that two young girls are unaccounted for. As local and interstate police descend on Tiverton, Hirsch's judgment and capabilities are repeatedly questioned and undermined.
I found Disher's plotting and character development really high-quality. There are plenty of twists and turns in the story, and second-guessing of various characters' bona fides. Hirsch is a flawed but engaging character, and I can't wait for the next instalment in the series, Consolation, to become available!
My thanks to the author Garry Disher, UK publisher Serpent's Tail / Profile Books and Viper and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title prior to publication.