The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

The Broken Shore , an Australian crime thriller, was first published in Melboune in 2005 by Text - a small clever local publishing house. It has won prizes internationally (Inc the UK Dagger and the Australian Ned Kelly -and isn't that a great name for a crime writing award? ). The book has been very positively reviewed and published in many countries. Temple is often referred to as a literary crime writer. Kerryn Goldsworthy writing in the Australian said of it as a book of the year selection "The writing is tight, the plot gallops along, the atmosphere is intermittently spooky with truly chilling moments, the characterisation is masterful" . I totally agree with this quote which I think is a succinct summary of the main attributes of this book.

I read it first about 18 months ago, enjoyed it then and that is why i am now recommending it. I am now half way through reading it again and finding that I like it even more and getting more out of it.

Some of the special elements I would highlight, along with those in the quote above, are the brilliant dialogue and the evocation of atmosphere with attention to unusual detail. The dialogue is as good as it gets. The richness of the characterisation comes through the masterful way the dialogue unfolds. The scenic and other narration details round out the tapestry well. Dog and animal lovers will find much to wonder at and the Victorian countryside and southern coastline are painted as well as an artist might.

The book requires careful reading because it is so tightly written and evokes authenticity. I note the major US Publisher, Farrar Strauss needed a legend re the vernacular for its US edition. I dont read very much in this genre however Temple is one I admire very much- and if you as with me don't venture into this category much - please try Temple. In summary - it is a tough plot with very fine characterisation, vernacular dialogue and verisimilitude re the country side and Australian social reality. It is a surprisingly rich tapestry for a crime thriller - and by the way there is an engaging investigating cop - Joseph Cashin who gets you in.

I am yearning to get some feedback on this one - I will post with some of the sections which illuminate special aspects of the book a little later when I have finished my second reading.

6 comments:

John Kennedy said...

I am still only about half way through my reading of this. Like you, Faye, I do not read much crime fiction, and I will admit that I found it hard to get into this book. Temple does not make it easy for his readers: the cast of characters if fairly large and I found myself going back a lot to try to discover who a character clearly reappearing after a brief earlier mention was. As readers we are thrown into the midst of things and learn only gradually who Cassin is and what a senior detective is doing in a remote Victorian rural district. But it does get more appealling as it progresses, and I fully agree with Faye about the skill displayed in evoking the 'feel' of rural southern Australia in winter.

John Kennedy

John Kennedy said...
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John Kennedy said...
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Anonymous said...

My enjoyment of this increased as I read into the later stages of the book. It does seem well written in most respects, though it makes heavy demands on the reader. After seeming to move very slowly for a long time, the plot comes together in the dnd. I would have greatly welcomed a list of characters, such as one sometimes gets with editions of Russian classics or Icelandic sagas. I often had difficulty remebmering who was who. Temple has little interest in making things easy for the reader. I think it is a book that owuld benefit from a re-read, ss Faye suggests.

John Kennedy

Faye said...

I agree with John that the plot and list of characters is a bit heavy at times but the book does repay a reread as suggested. I liked the way Temple uses dialogue - I think it is particularly good example of this literary technique. . I think he must be a very good listener. I liked the strong Australian environment too.

Selina said...

People should read this.