Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction (Australia)
Joe Cashin was different once. He moved easily then. He was surer and less thoughtful. But there are consequences when you’ve come so close to dying. For Cashin, they included a posting away from the world of Homicide to the quiet place on the coast where he grew up. Now all he has to do is play the country cop and walk the dogs. And sometimes think about how he was before.
Then prominent local Charles Bourgoyne is beaten and left for dead. Everything seems to point to three boys from the nearby Aboriginal community; everyone seems to want it to. But Cashin is unconvinced. And as tragedy unfolds relentlessly into tragedy, he finds himself holding onto something that might be better let go.
What do you do if you want to turn the latest book by a writer who's won five Ned Kelly Awards (Australia's equivalent to the Edgar Awards) into an equally impressive audio version? Blackstone had the perfect solution: get a reader like Hosking, who can do all the voices, from big-city cop Joe Cashin, young and old aborigine men and women, and truly frightening racist cops who will do anything to bury their deadly secrets. Hosking's characters are instantly and subtly rendered, springing to life quickly in listeners' minds. And his reading of Temple's descriptions of the Australian countryside, ranging from lush to rough, is a virtual audio trip to the source. This talented team catches the excitement and the beauty of a unique land. A simultaneous release with the FSG hardcover. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Detective Joe Cashin had hoped for a little peace when he accepted a posting in his quiet South Australia hometown. But no such luck; he's in the midst of a murder investigation, with three aboriginal boys as the main suspects. Reading group guide. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
An Australian cop sent to the hinterlands after narrowly escaping death finds that life in the slow lane is just as nasty. Someone's bashed in the silvered head of Charles Bourgoyne, industrialist and philanthropist, and left him for dead. The evidence of Bourgoyne's pricey missing watch points to three aboriginal boys who tried to pawn a similar watch. But when Detective Sergeant Joe Cashin, head of Port Monro station, tries to bring them in, the pinch goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Cashin, a homicide cop whose partner was killed by a murderous drug dealer aiming for Cashin as well, is treading on eggshells. His old schoolmate Bobby Walshe, a political activist leading a radical new party, serves notice that he intends to make hay of the debacle. Helen Castleman, another old schoolmate who's now an attorney defending one of the accused, rails against him and then, adding insult to injury, buys the place next door and starts a quarrel over the boundary between them. With every inducement to declare the case closed, Cashin finds himself reopening it instead. What he learns about Bourgoyne and a trail of other victims is devastating. Temple (Identity Theory, 2004, etc.) drops disclosure after grim disclosure into his tale as discreetly as if he were trying to keep each revelation secret, and the behavior of several suspects defies belief. The densely layered narrative is less a whodunit than a superior mood piece and psychological portrait.
From the Publisher
“Flinty, funny, subtle, and smart . . .Temple ranks among [the crime genre's] very best practitioners.” Entertainment Weekly
“Having read the new novels of Michael Connelly and Martin Cruz Smith, I have to say that Temple belongs in their company. . . . Murder, rape, suicide, child abuse, police brutality, shootouts--but always in the context of gorgeous writing . . . Throughout, Temple finds time to please us with flashes of writing that range from poetic to brutal.” The Washington Post
“A grim, brutally involving crime novel [from] a master of the genre . . . Temple develops a complex tale threaded with the racism and corruption so embedded in Australia's ways and means that the scene is as vivid as the crime. . . . A compulsive read . . . It's one of those books you can't wait to finish and then can only regret that it's ended.” Daily News (New York)
“The extra emphasis on character, as well as subtle commentary on race and class divides, add many welcome layers to Temple's already-outstanding acuity for plotting and pace and his almost musical ear for dialogue.” The Baltimore Sun
“A mature and measured account of the kind of crimes committed in the dead quiet of rural Australia . . . Temple offers some provocative and painful views of Australia's inner landscape.” The New York Times Book Review
“This deeply intelligent thriller starts slowly, builds inexorably, and ends unforgettably.” Booklist (starred review)
“[Temple] writes so beautifully.” Salon.com
“One of the year's best mysteries . . . Drop everything and read this book.” Rocky Mountain News
Read an Excerpt
CASHIN WALKED around the hill, into the wind from the sea. It was cold, late autumn, last glowing leaves clinging to the liquidambars and maples his great-grandfather’s brother had planted, their surrender close. He loved this time, the morning stillness, loved it more than spring.
The dogs were tiring now but still hunting the ground, noses down, taking more time to sniff, less hopeful. Then one picked up a scent and, new life in their legs, they loped in file for the trees, vanished.
When he was near the house, the dogs, black as liquorice, came out of the trees, stopped, heads up, looked around as if seeing the land for the first time. Explorers. They turned their gaze on him for a while, started down the slope.
He walked the last stretch as briskly as he could and, as he put his hand out to the gate, they reached him. Their curly black heads tried to nudge him aside, insisting on entering first, strong back legs pushing. He unlatched the gate, they pushed it open enough to slip in, nose to tail, trotted down the path to the shed door. Both wanted to be first again, stood with tails up, furry scimitars, noses touching at the door jamb.
Inside, the big poodles led him to the kitchen. They had water bowls there and they stuck their noses into them and drank in a noisy way. Cashin prepared their meal: two slices each from the cannon-barrel dog sausage made by the butcher in Kenmare, three handfuls each of dry dog food. He got the dogs’ attention, took the bowls outside, placed them a metre apart.
The dogs came out. He told them to sit. Stomachs full of water, they did so slowly and with disdain, appeared to be arthritic. Given permission to eat, they looked at the food without interest, looked at each other, at him. Why have we been brought here to see this inedible stuff?
Cashin went inside. In his hip pocket, the mobile rang.
Kendall Rogers, from the station.
‘Had a call from a lady,’ she said. ‘Near Beckett. A Mrs Haig. She reckons there’s someone in her shed.’
‘Well, nothing. Her dog’s barking. I’ll sort it out.’
Cashin felt his stubble. ‘What’s the address?’
‘No point. Not far out of my way. Address?’
He went to the kitchen table and wrote on the pad: date, time, incident, address. ‘Tell her fifteen-twenty. Give her my number if anything happens before I get there.’
The dogs liked his urgency, rushed around, made for the vehicle when he left the building. On the way, they stood on station, noses out the back windows. Cashin parked a hundred metres down the lane from the farmhouse gate. A head came around the hedge as he approached.
‘Cop?’ she said. She had dirty grey hair around a face cut from a hard wood with a blunt tool.
‘The uniform and that?’
‘Plainclothes,’ he said. He produced the Victoria Police badge with the emblem that looked like a fox. She took off her smudged glasses to study it.
‘Them police dogs?’ she said.
He looked back. Two woolly black heads in the same window.
‘They work with the police,’ he said. ‘Where’s this person?’
‘Come,’ she said. ‘Dog’s inside, mad as a pork chop, the little bugger.’
‘Jack Russell,’ said Cashin.
‘How’d ya know that?’
‘Just a guess.’
They went around the house. He felt the fear rising in him like nausea.
‘In there,’ she said.
The shed was a long way from the house, you had to cross an expanse of overgrown garden, go through an opening in a fence lost beneath rampant potato-creeper. They walked to the gate. Beyond was knee-high grass, pieces of rusted metal sticking out.
‘What’s inside?’ Cashin said, looking at a rusted shed of corrugated iron a few metres from the road, a door half open. He felt sweat around his collarbones. He wished he’d let Kendall do this.
Mrs Haig touched her chin, black spikes like a worn-down hair brush. ‘Stuff,’ she said. ‘Junk. The old truck. Haven’t bin in there for years. Don’t go in there.’
‘Let the dog out,’ he said.
Her head jerked, alarmed. ‘Bastard might hurt im,’ she said.
‘No,’ he said. ‘What’s the dog’s name?’
‘Monty, call them all Monty, after Lord Monty of Alamein. Too young, you wouldn’t know.’
‘That’s right,’ he said. ‘Let Monty out.’
‘And them police dogs? What bloody use are they?’
‘Kept for life-and-death matters,’ Cashin said, controlling his voice. ‘I’ll be at the door, then you let Lord Monty out.’
His mouth was dry, his scalp itched, these things would not have happened before Rai Sarris. He crossed the grassland, went to the left of the door. You learned early to keep your distance from potentially dangerous people and that included not going into dark sheds to meet them.
Mrs Haig was at the potato-creeper hedge. He gave her the thumbs up, his heart thumping.
The small dog came bounding through the grass, all tight muscles and yap, went for the shed, braked, stuck its head in the door and snarled, small body rigid with excitement.
Cashin thumped on the corrugated iron wall with his left hand. ‘Police,’ he said loudly, glad to be doing something. ‘Get out of there. Now!’
Not a long wait.
The dog backed off, shrieking, hysterical, mostly airborne.
A man appeared in the doorway, hesitated, came out carrying a canvas swag. He ignored the dog.
‘On my way,’ he said. ‘Just had a sleep.’ He was in his fifties perhaps, short grey hair, big shoulders, a day’s beard.