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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*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
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