At Booklist, we review almost entirely new and forthcoming titles, a challenge for those of use who tend to get distracted in used bookstores. Fortunately, sometimes there are opportunities to bring good, old books to a brand-new audience.
I first discovered Peter Temple when I was asked to review The Broken Shore (2005), a magnificent novel that made me wonder why I hadn’t heard of him previously. He’d been published in the U.S. but not particularly well, and certainly not comprehensively—the third and fourth books of his Jack Irish series never even made it into print here. With that spotty record, our coverage of his books was naturally hit-and-miss, which is a shame. But, last year, Text Publishing set about filling the gaps in Temple’s backlist, republishing out-of-print books and, via U.S. distributor Consortium, making some of them available in the U.S. for the first time.
In the spirit of Bill Ott’s Travis McGee Project, in which he revisited the 21 books in John D. MacDonald’s iconic series, I hereby announce the considerably more modest Peter Temple Project: to revisit all 9 of Temple’s books and write reviews where they are missing. I’ll cover one book each month, starting now, and will finish the whole thing during next May’s Mystery Month.
First up is Temple’s debut, Bad Debts, also the first book in the Jack Irish series. Published in Australia in 1996, then in the U.S. in 2005 (by MacAdam/Cage), this latest edition features a cover tie-in to the Australian made-for-TV movies starring Guy Pearce as Irish. (I just added the first one to my Netflix queue.)
If you’re not familiar with Temple, sample the first seven pages of Bad Debts—if you’re not hooked, check your prescription.
Or your pulse.