TRUTH by Peter Temple

Peter Temple is fast becoming another one of my favorite authors.  He is an award-winning Australian crime writer,  and so far, his works have an intriguing mix of character development and a mystery to be solved, and it is not clear which is more important.  Really nice stuff.

Truth 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 is Melbourne, there is definitely a body, in a classy apartment, in a bathtub.  The body is of a young woman, who reminds Villani of his own daughter.  The dead woman is famous and rich, and has a dubious boyfriend.  There are actually three more bodies.  Not a decent crime novel without a minimum of two bodies, right?

The story has a lot of characters, so if you are looking for an easy read, look elsewhere.  This one you have to pay attention to.  It all starts with this murder of a young woman in the city’s newest luxury high-rise, followed by horrific torture killings of three hard-core drug-dealing criminals.  As Villani and his fractured team investigate, he finds himself heading into murky political waters.

The dialog is sparse, spare and terse.  The politics rough.  The connections between the two story lines seemingly non-existent.  But as in all good crime fiction, little by little, it gets woven together.  It features the requisite flawed homicide detective.  If I ever read a police procedural where the detective is an average Joe with a healthy relationship with the wife and family, I will probably fall over in a dead faint.

What I like about this writer is that he just dives into the story.  The dialog and exposition suggest back stories which are never fully explained, but eventually you catch on.  An interesting technique, which adds to the verisimilitude of the story.  How do you like my ‘verisimilitude’?  See how it plays on the title, Truth?

This is all about truth, what is, what isn’t, what passes for, what bypasses it altogether.   Really good book.


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