Blood Moon

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Following almost straight on from Chain of Evidence, Blood Moon has Hal Challis back from South Australia with things following a predictable course as far as the house-sitting Ellen Destry is concerned. That course, however, while predictable, has implications for the future of both parties, and there are the predictable moving into a relationship considerations that come where one party moves into the other's pre-existing setup.

As far as the professional futures are concerned it's obvious Challis and Destry can't carry on as part of the same investigative unit, at least not while they're obviously shacked up together. One doesn't notice the same issues rearing their ugly heads in other series where you have colleagues falling into the sack together, but that's presumably because they're able to maintain a fictional independence through separate residential addresses.

That's not the sort of thing, however, that's going to go down well with Superintendent McQuarrie, Challis' boss, who he's crossed swords with in the past, and an interview with the boss early on in proceedings has McQuarrie pointing out in the old days one of you would have been posted to Outer Woop-Woop but to leave it with me and he'll presumably see what he can come up with.

If that's an unexpectedly sympathetic McQuarrie, the form reversal can largely be attributed to the discovery of Lachlan Roe, chaplain at an exclusive private school, bashed and left for dead on his front lawn. Roe has links to Opposition Leader Ollie Hindmarsh, who has been known to be extremely critical of the Victorian Police Force so it's hardly surprising that McQuarrie wants things tackled with kid gloves.

It's not as if that's the only thing the Waterloo Police have to deal with. For a start it's Schoolies' Week with the predictable law enforcement issues as hordes of school leavers move into sex, drugs and rock'n'roll party mode and numbers of older toolies turn up to take advantage of the inebriatedly vulnerable. Among those ranks is Josh Brownlee, who's bringing his own issues to this year's Schoolies' after being a genuine participant last year, attracting the attention of Kaz Moon, surf boutique manager who's out for revenge for an alleged rape last year and has an imaginative take on the concept of extra-legal revenge.

Then there's the murder of town planning infringements officer Ludmilla Wishart, who has apparently stumbled on evidence of corruption in the approvals process in an area favoured by well-heeled people with money looking to erect substantial monuments to their own lack of taste.

Ludmilla ('Mill' to her close acquaintances) is in a position where she's likely to rub up any number of influential people the wrong way, and is married to architect Adrian, who's the sort of obsessively jealous control freak who may well have done his missus in if he thought she was wandering.

He's the sort of bloke whose microscopic attention to detail would, you'd expect, have any sensible woman terminating the relationship before it got the chance to go anywhere (he's the type to tally up the cost of hot water in showers and monitor the use of toilet paper) and while she's in receipt of advice to do just that she knows that in his own words the only way you'll leave me is in a coffin.

And, as you'd expect, within the police station relationships are reshaping and realigning. Plodding good with detail man Scobie Sutton's ultra-religious wife is veering towards the First Ascensionists, an obscure sect with connections to Lachlan Roe and Ollie Hindmarsh, Pam Murphy, freshly promoted to plainclothes work, is attracted to glamorous city boy cop Andy Cree, getting her ex-operational partner John 'Tank' Tankard's nose out of joint in the process.

As usual, Disher takes the apparently unconnected strands and ongoing issues, winds then neatly around each other and keeps enough unsuspected snippets up his sleeve to add the odd new and unexpected element to the mix as things progress through the lunar eclipse that gives the book its title.

With the latest title in the series (Whispering Death) just out there's a natural inclination to rush in and grab a copy, but there's a reluctance, at the same time, to do that right now, given the likely lead-time before a seventh title appears. I have a suspicion that short-term curiosity is going to win out.

© Ian Hughes 2012