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Chain of Evidence (Inspector Hal Challis and Sergeant Ellen Destry Investigation) Hardcover – July 1, 2007

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Australian Disher's fine fourth novel to feature Insp. Hal Challis, head of Peninsula East's Crime Investigation Unit in Waterloo, Queensland (after 2005's Snapshot), opens with the kidnapping of 10-year-old Katie Blasko. In Challis's absence, Sgt. Ellen Destry leads the investigation while her boss visits his dying father in the South Australia sheep-farming village he came from (and does some unofficial sleuthing on the mysterious disappearance of his brother-in-law five years earlier). When the girl is discovered, viciously abused, Destry's supervisors are a bit too eager to close the case as the inquiry widens into something much larger. Disher deftly weaves in layers of complexity, particularly the resentful antagonism that separates Waterloo's lower-middle-class families from the town's power structure. A compelling mix of procedural detail and action round out a fully credible plot and characters. Though some of the multitudinous subplots dilute the novel's overall impact, it's nonetheless a deeply satisfying read. (July)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Australian crime fiction flies below the radar of most American fans, but Disher and compatriot Peter Temple are making the case that they deserve to be as well known as Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin. Despite broadening his Inspector Hal Challis series to include Sergeant Ellen Destry, Disher keeps the partners apart for the entire book, each of them solving crimes that share odd resonances. Challis has gone to Mawson's Bluff, his dusty hometown deep in the "never-never," to attend his father's imminent death. Destry, homeless following her sundered marriage, is house-sitting for Challis in lush Waterloo, near Melbourne, and filling in for him at work, too. She is tested by a horrific child abduction, departmental politics, and rogue cops--while he finds himself facing personal history and investigating the long-ago disappearance of his unlikable brother-in-law. There's strong sexual tension between Challis and Destry, despite the fact that they communicate only by phone. This is a procedural, with careful, realistic casework, but the character development suggests Peter Robinson, with enough darkness and ambiguity to suit fans of Rankin, and a kind of which-way-is-up sense of the police force that recalls early James Ellroy. Moody, inventive, and extremely hard to put down. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Hal Challis and Sergeant Ellen Destry Investigation
  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime; First Edition edition (July 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569474613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569474617
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,908,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Garry Disher lives in Australia and is the author of over 40 books: novels, short story collections, writers' handbooks, history textbooks and children's fiction. His Challis and Destry police procedurals, and his Wyatt crime from the inside thrillers, are gaining international recognition, winning best crime novel of the year awards in Australia and Germany and appearing on best books of the year lists in the USA. Garry has toured Germany twice and the States once, and counts a scholarship year spent in the Stanford University creative writing school, early in his career, as one of his most important formative experiences.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Fletcher VINE VOICE on January 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dang it! Disher's at it again. I really like his writing and especially like the setting of his stories in peninsular Victoria, Australia. But the man doesn't seem to have met a story line that he didn't want to include in his novels. His last book, "Snapshot" wasn't as busy and it was much better for the manageable number of subplots and crossplots.

This time, Inspector Hal Challis is called away to his childhood home, Mawson's Bluff, in the Outback of S.E. Australia. His father is dying and there are relationships to resolve and ghosts to chase. Challis's interactions with his sister and father are lovely pieces of this book. The mystery to be solved in Mawson's Bluff is a bit of a clunker but it isn't awful.

Meanwhile, Sergeanty Ellen Destry has been put in charge of Challis's Crime Investigation Unit and is staying at his house in his absence. She's left her marriage and is unsure about a budding romance with Challis. (Just the usual complications at the office.) Because Challis is gone, Ellen must pull together the team to investigate an awful crime - the abduction of a child by a pedophile with a clever system that makes fools of mothers and victims of daughters. This is a tough storyline and flinchingly close to today's headlines. But it is well-written and tells a necessary story about how fiends acquire and exploit children.

I've been a pretty faithful Disher reader since "Dragon Man" and I see no reason to stop - I just wish he'd flesh out his good main stories and give a few of the side stories a rest, even if it means we don't get such detailed insight into the lives of our complex police unit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scott on May 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've liked Disher's writing since first reading "The Dragon Man." For me, this was his best since that debut. "Kittyhawk Down" and "Snapshot" were both very good, but not quite as good as "Dragon" or this one. Excellent character development, especially with Ellen Destry, very well plotted and a good sense of setting. And I have to disagree with another reviewer about too many subplots. Can't wait to read his next one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
In Australia Police Inspector Hal Challis returns home to Mawson's Bluff in the Australian Outback, as his father is dying. Sergeant Ellen Destry takes over running the Peninsula East's Crime Investigation Unit in Waterloo, Queensland temporarily. At the annual Waterloo Show, ten years old Katie Blasko vanishes; shockingly her mother waits twenty-four hours before reporting her missing to the cops, who know how critical the first few hours are in terms of retrieval. To her shock her superiors want her to close the case though she fears a pedophile ring may be operating in the peninsular.

Meanwhile in Mawson's Bluff, a corpse is found inside a plastic bag lying on top of a coffin buried four years ago. Inside is Challis' odious brother-n-law who vanished at the same time the coffin was interred. Challis' sister Meg assumed he was alive as she has been receiving junk mail that she thought came from him since he left her. He unofficially investigates.

There are obviously two major subplots; both are well written and could stand alone as investigative tales. However, rotating back and forth subtracts from the overall impact of each in spite two well written multilayered story lines that come across as rotating novellas. Still Gary Disher provides his audience with an engaging Australian police procedural as Challis is out of town conducting an unsanctioned private investigation re his family while Destry works a police procedural inquiry into a kidnapped child. Putting Destry in charge of dealing with media, the brass, and politicians refreshes this excellent series.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EinLA on March 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
I think the author, Gary Disher, takes a very interesting risk with this book, the fourth in the series, placing the main character, Inspector Hal Challis, on the other side of the country due to his father's imminent death. The main character/detective then becomes Ellen Destry and it is a credit to Dasher's great talent and craft that the book still works so well - fast paced and engaging. I think the distance between Hal and Ellen enables the author to develop their intimacy through increasingly personal and vulnerable phone calls, which is a nice touch which serves as an important positive note through an otherwise fairly dark story. We also see a more intimate, personal side of Challis than in previous books, where (to my mind at least) he was a bit opaque, as he interacts with his niece, sister and father.

Many detective series rely on only one or two full realized characters (a popular Sicilian police series comes right to mind), while this one treats the readers to a handful of interesting police officers with different personalities, strengths and flaws, all magnified by the stress of their work - both on the streets and from the office politics. These other characters are all given some kind of plot line and thereby also become more three dimensional and interesting.

This style reminds me, somewhat of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series, although the tone is different. It also reminds me of the Martin Beck series (and in my mind, no higher compliment could be made) in the richness of the characters, and the truth in its psychological and sociological accuracy and social relevance. Disher clearly cares about the issues that he writes about and this sincerity raises this series way above genre fiction.
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