When a prominent local is attacked in his home and left for dead, everyone seems to want to blame three boys from the nearby aboriginal community, thrusting big-city detective Joe Cashin into what becomes a murder investigation.
There is, in fact, a great deal of action ahead — murder, rape, suicide, child abuse, police brutality, shootouts — but always in the context of gorgeous writing. The novel is in fact an exceptional blending of first-rate crime fiction and a literary sensibility … Temple presents sophisticated portraits of at least a dozen of Port Monro's citizens — the rich and the poor, the honest and the corrupt — all seen with compassion and without illusion. His story becomes political when the locals fight to stop a proposed luxury resort that will despoil their coast, and a charismatic young Aboriginal leader takes up the cause. Throughout, Temple finds time to please us with flashes of writing that range from poetic to brutal.
Peter Temple drops the clipped delivery that gives a hard edge to his popular Jack Irish mysteries and delivers a mature and measured account of the kind of crimes committed in the dead quiet of rural Australia … When two Aboriginal youths caught with goods belonging to a murdered white man are killed in a police shootout, Cashin can’t ignore the region’s virulent strains of racism. Along with giving us mournful scenes of civilization’s slow encroachment on an idyllic countryside, Temple offers some provocative and painful views of Australia’s inner landscape.
From a single corpse, Temple spins a complicated mystery that eventually encompasses racial tensions, scumbag cops, drugs, a grandstanding aborigine politician, stomach-turning sexual abuse, and rapacious developers … Flinty, funny, subtle, and smart, The Broken Shore sags under the burden of a few too many narrative complications and, like many a top-drawer mystery, collapses toward the end, as the haunting questions, so elegantly posed, are suddenly and a little awkwardly answered. But this is a hazard of the genre, and Temple ranks among its very best practitioners.