THE BROKEN SHORE by Peter Temple

A wonderful read in the police procedural/crime thriller genre,  primarily because it is really all about the characters, the crimes under investigation being of less interest.  Well, of less interest to me, anyway.  It is also about corruption, political and in law enforcement; it is dark and depressing in the way that sometimes life is dark and depressing.

This is a stand alone novel, written by an awarding winning Australian writer, set in the state of Victoria, Australia. But it is peppered with references to other times, other cases, other characters, so that it makes one think that this is a sequel.  But it is not.  I found it a very interesting way to tell a story.  Other people found it distracting and hard to follow.   See, that’s what happens in genre writing.  People get to expecting a formula, and if the work on offer does not conform to the formula, it is condemned for being hard to follow.  I loved it.  So there.

Detective Joe Cashin is recovering from his injuries at his hometown in South Eastern Australia. He is there to run a one-man police station and is rebuilding the wreck of a home begun by his grandfather.   Joe is flawed, maybe even broken, as are so many of the homicide detectives in fiction today.  Gone are the happy, witty, cheerful investigators of yore, like Lord Peter Whimsy,  or Miss Marple, or any of a number I could name.  Today is the day of the detective who is a real person with a disgusting job, who sees too much, has to deal with too much of the world’s filth, and juggle the corruption of his (or her) own police department, the city bureaucracy, his (or her) ignored family.

Want some quotes?  OK.

It would slam you against the pocked walls in the Kettle, slam you and slam you until your clothes were threads and you were just tenderised meat.  It was called the Broken Shore, that piece of the coast.

Someone told him once that the first sailors to see the coast called it that [Broken Shore] because of hte massive pieces of the limestone cliff that had broken away and fallen into the sea.

And a couple of little pieces of philosophy for you:

Cashin thought that there was no firm ground in life.  Just crusts of different thicknesses over the ooze.


‘I’m down here for as long as it takes.’  There was truth in this.  There was some truth in almost anything people said.

The book deals with racism (yes, Australia has racism), and the furry question of who is really guilty, — you know, typical crime story stuff, but done in a way that makes it a novel that for me transcends its genre.  For me, it seemed more of a novel built around a murder mystery structure, than the other way around.  Make sense?


One comment on “THE BROKEN SHORE by Peter Temple

  1. […] is his second novel, but is set in time before the events in The Broken Shore, which I wrote about here.   It features DI Stephen Villani, who has only a peripheral role in The Broken Shore.  The city […]


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