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  • Brilliant Australian rural crime fiction.

    Consolation is the third book in the Paul Hirschhausen series by popular Australian author, Garry Disher. If it was intended as device to remove him from the close contact (and wrath) of his colleagues, Hirsch's demotion to the one-cop station in rural Tiverton has now morphed into something else: he inhabits the role with quiet purpose and an unexpected satisfaction. Hirsch has become part of the community. During the August chill, Hirsch makes a welfare check revealing a case of child cruelty, swiftly followed by an angry parent terrorising the school principal. Hirsch proves a talent for mediation, but senses resentment simmering. Follow-ups with victims of a persistent snow-dropper, and of Irish roof-repair scammers are added to his regular patrols, but then a nasty incident puts him also in charge of Redruth Police Station and on the trail of a gun-toting pair seeking revenge. Filled with toxic masculinity, they’re not behaving like fugitives, indulging in thefts, intimidation and arson. This is another excellent dose of Hirsch. Not only does he deal with financial irregularities in the bank accounts of vulnerable elderly, possible undue influence by neighbours or family, and a missing husband, he also gets stuck in the mud, acquires a stalker and is restrained by his own handcuffs. The kidnap of a teen and an armed stand-off provide exciting climaxes. With his often-exquisite prose, Disher easily evokes his setting: “He’d been formed by a city, its exact delineations of asphalt streets and bricks in orderly rows, but out here the angles were unpredictable. Roads shot off in unlikely directions, buildings decayed at a lean and the endless flatland was neither endless nor flat, throwing up stone reef patches or plunging into gullies. And it was a landscape charged with unheard testimony: an ochre hand stencil in a cave; a stick figure carved into a rockface; a grinding tool laid bare after a flash flood.” Amid a glut of flawed heroes, Hirsch is a refreshing protagonist: comfortable in his own skin; not perfect but certainly principled; not battling drugs or alcohol, not tempted by illegal or immoral activity; an essentially tireless cop, exuding integrity, dedicated to enforcement and protection tempered with the judgement calls essential in rural policing. Fans can only hope this is not the last of Tiverton and Constable Paul Hirschhausen. Brilliant Australian rural crime fiction. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.

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  • A wonderful police procedural in remote Australia

    Consolation is the first mystery I’ve read by Garry Disher, and I’m glad I did. I received an advance review copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, and going in, I didn’t have much idea of what to expect. What I found was a very very nice, tightly written police procedural that kept me reading late into the night, and then again early the next morning! Paul Hirschhausen (“Hirsch”) is a one-man police operation in a small town on the edges of the Flinders Ranges in Australia. He seems to have been sent here as punishment for some unclear (in this book, at least) issues in his past. But by now he has settled in pretty well, and I didn’t feel as I was missing out on any info from his past that I needed to understand what was going on. Instead, there is a pretty good set of current cases for him to tackle, ranging from an underwear thief (apparently called a snowdropper in Australia ?!?!) to a case of child abuse to some financial chicanery to a pair of survivalists on the run. Oh yeah, and a potential stalker in his personal life. In the best traditions of police procedurals, Hirsch does a nice job of juggling all these cases. I really liked the way that Disher shows how difficult some of Hirsch’s decisions can be, especially since he is often out in remote territory on his own. In one example, he’s helping a badly injured person when he hears a gunshot off in the direction of the “bad guys”. Should he leave to go see if someone else has been hurt even worse, or stay with the person he knows is hurt? Either choice is probably bad… I also really enjoyed Disher’s descriptions of the countryside around Hirsch’s home base of Tiverton. Sometimes his descriptions are almost poetic (e.g. “rain-shadow country trying to be green”), and I found myself reading more slowly just to be able to enjoy them. Now I really want to visit this area someday! In some ways, Disher’s descriptions, and the remote countryside itself, remind me of Tony Hillerman’s descriptions of the American southwest in his Leaphorn/Chee series, which I also like a lot. Finally, I enjoyed learning some Australianisms, like “snowdropper” above. I was especially amused by Hirsch’s “second breakfasts” – a meal that I had only heard of before when Pippin memorably complained about missing it in the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. All-in-all, I highly recommend this book. My thanks again to Text Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy. And I personally will be looking for more of Disher’s titles to read – including/especially the first two books in this series!

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