Peter Temple’s novels are the literary equivalent of potato chips: you can’t stop with just one. After that, however, the analogy breaks down completely, because not only are Temple’s books much more nutritious than potato chips (and I mean that metaphorically; please don’t chew the pages), they are also not nearly as numerous. If you were to receive a bag containing only nine potato chips, you would feel justifiably cheated. However, if someone gave you a bag containing all nine of the Australian crime-fiction great’s novels, you would have received a great gift indeed.
I apologize for this introduction. I think I may be getting a cold, and my head isn’t as clear as it ought to be. Fortunately, I was feeling much sharper when I wrote my retrospective review of Shooting Star (1999). And if that sounds like your bottle of Victoria Bitter lager, you can read my reviews of Temple’s earlier works, a labor of love I’m calling the Peter Temple Project. And stay tuned for my review of Dead Point (2000), the third book in Temple’s Jack Irish series.
Ex-soldier, ex-cop, “ex-everything” Frank Calder is hired by a rich family, the Carsons, when their 15-year-old daughter Anne is kidnapped. They insist that all they want him to do is deliver the money, having learned their lesson years earlier when another of the family’s young women was taken. (That the family is such a frequent target ought to say something.) Against his better judgment, wanting the money, Frank agrees.