At the start of the story, Hirsch is despatched to investigate gunshots that have been heard just out of Tiverton. He finds the culprits in the shape of a couple of bored kids taking potshots at jam tins with a .22, and is then redirected to the scene of what appears to be a hit and run on a back country road.

Teenager Melia Donovan is the victim, and as far as his colleagues are concerned it’s a clear case with an obvious explanation and enough time elapsed to make it impossible to track down a culprit. Hirsch, however, digs around, comes up with question marks, but is frustrated by the way crime scenes and associated evidence have been treated.

It’s much the same story when Alison Latimer, who has recently left her abusive husband and is seeking a divorce is found dead, in a location she detested in an apparent suicide. Hirsch has his doubts, but before he can do anything the scene, and her estranged husband’s homestead have been rendered useless for anything approaching accurate forensic science.

But there’s enough there to keep Hirsch sniffing away, regardless of the hostility surrounding him and he ongoing corruption investigation, with the internal investigations crowd determined to pin something on him and any number of disgruntled colleagues who’d be only too happy to assist in the attempt. 

And, in the background, there are ongoing concerns regarding the overwrought media coverage of a couple of thrill killers roaming the outback in a black Chrysler station wagon.

As the narrative unfolds what looks on the surface like an exercise in low level small town corruption turns into an investigation with implications considerably higher up the pecking order and the picture becomes increasingly disturbing as the layers are peeled back.

Disher is a class act, and his books invariably exhibit strong plot lines, a diverse cast of characters who are rarely what they seem and enough twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages.

Which, of course, is why I finished this one so quickly, and why I was out earlier this morning looking for more.

Hirsch’s situation might not be the sort of thing that can be parayed into a series, but there’s definite potential there. The character, and Disher’s narrative approach, which limits things to what you can see through his eyes, have definite possibilities.


Award-winning author Garry Disher on his latest novel “Bitter Wash Road”


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© Ian Hughes 2012