EXCERPT: The house was empty. Hirsch didn’t know if the thin trace of dust on the kitchen table indicated abandonment or bad housekeeping. But the UHF equipment in the radio room had been smashed up: violence of some kind had occurred here.
He left by the back door and walked to the jackaroos’ quarters, a pair of squat back to back rooms. Unmade beds and dirty clothes piled on wooden chairs; in one room a guitar, in the other posters of a Tasmanian rainforest, a formula one racing car and a woman in tennis whites scratching her bare bum.
The sheds: a Falcon station wagon, a trailer, tools, ladders, ropes, axles, a blacksmith’s anvil.
Hirsch stood in the yard a while, indecisive. Search a wider area? Call it in right now? The Ayliffes could be anywhere. Maybe they’d drive the Triton down into a sinkhole and the airbag would explode and slice their throats open.
Widening the circle each time, Hirsch circumnavigated the patch of buildings and stockyards. Eventually he caught, faintly but unmistakably, a stench of death borne on the wind that gusted across the rocky ground.
ABOUT ‘CONSOLATION’: Winter in Tiverton.
Constable Paul Hirschhausen has a snowdropper on his patch. Someone is stealing women’s underwear, and Hirsch knows enough about that kind of crime—how it can escalate—not to take it lightly.
But the more immediate concerns are a call from the high school, a teacher worried about a student who may be in danger at home. Another call, a different school: a man enraged about the principal’s treatment of his daughter.
A little girl in harm’s way and an elderly woman in danger. An absent father who isn’t where he’s supposed to be; another who flees to the back country armed with a rifle. Families under pressure. And the cold, seeping feeling that something is very, very wrong.
MY THOUGHTS: Paul Hirschausen is on duty twenty four seven in Tiverton and it’s surrounds. No eight hour day then knock off and put your feet up for him. Rural policing doesn’t work like that. In a typical day he might have a cup of tea and a chat about missing, believed stolen, sheep, or mysterious headlights in the night, or a grown son not taking his meds. He might help a widow start her ute with the police Toyota’s jumper leads, hold a ladder so a man can fish his grandson’s cricket ball out of the gutter, or change a tap washer for an elderly woman. He might also be shot at. . .
Consolation, the third book in the Paul Hirschausen series, initially seems gentler than the previous two, but this is merely an illusion. The crimes are different, perhaps a wider range than we have been treated to previously, but are still full of deadly intent. A farmer and his son turn rogue and go on a rampage, there is a stalker, some Irish conmen, fraud, child abuse, and a kidnapping. Just another police beat in a sleepy outback town where nothing much ever happens… Oh yes, and there’s someone stealing elderly ladies’ underwear from their clothes lines.
Paul’s relationship with Wendy and her daughter Katie continues, not without the odd hiccup, and many of the characters from the previous two novels return in this one. But Disher also introduces some new characters: Clara Ogilvie, a teacher who works with Wendy; Margaret and Amy Groote, an elderly lady and her niece; Quinlan, the stock and station agent; Sophie Flynn, a young bank teller who uncovers some strange goings on in some bank accounts; and the Ayliffes, a family on the brink.
The previous two books in the series were set mid-summer, Christmas; Consolation is set mid-winter and I could feel every blast of that icy wind, see the roads made almost impassable by the relentless rain, feel the frost crunching beneath my feet.
Again, Garry Disher held me spellbound, totally caught up in the lives of the people in this small remote town. I can’t wait for the next installment. In the meantime, I plan on starting on one of the other two series he has written. Can’t get enough of this author!
THE AUTHOR: Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.
He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Consolation by Garry Disher for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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