By February 8, 2011 0 Comments Read More →


I find it ironic that the last book that I read (A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess–see my previous post) had a glossary and so does Truth by Peter Temple.  Why is this so important?  Because there is a rhythm and pace to this novel that is driven by the use of language.  It is not just the use of words that unfamiliar but also the masterful construction of the dialog and the inner thoughts of the lead character that make this novel such challenge to read. 

The lead character is Stephen Villani whom some readers might recognize as a minor character in Temple’s triumphant work, The Broken Shore.  Villani is the head of homicide for Melbourne, a city that appears to be in the grip of a political and economic conspiracy while its average citizens are dodging the warfare of the local organized crime wave.  Villani has to deal with two cases here:  the first is the death of a prostitute in a high end development that includes a casino and the second is the deaths of three crime figures who are tortured before they are killed.

Villani has a number of strikes against him as a hero.  Raised by a contrary father who is currently refusing to leave his homestead threatened by an advancing wildfire, it is the old man’s upbringing that may explain why Villani is such a bad husband and father.  Central to the story is the consequences of his neglectful parenting skills but also on display are his harmful supervisory skills with the employees in the homicide bureau.

Anti-hero or no hero at all, Villani is key to the events in the book.  This is an example of a neo-noir novel and it is full of violence that could make some readers look away, not because of its graphic nature which is limited, but rather because we are so fearful that our societies are out of control. 

It will take the right book discussion group to take on this novel and I am not sure I will use it in my crime and mystery fiction discussion group.  I will get back to you on that one.



About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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