Saturday, October 14, 2006

Peter Temple's low-key wisecracks

You suggested him, I posted about him, you responded about him. Now I'm reading him. I'm just about ninety pages into Bad Debts, Temple's first novel about investigator-cabinetmaker-sort-of-ex-lawyer Jack Irish, enough to give a preliminary report.

The book is episodic but not at all jerky. It's full of fresh observations, even on that tired P.I.-novel subject, the protagonist who loses his wife, then slips into drink. It's got enough Australian slang and speech patterns to make things lively for this North American reader.

Here's Jack Irish's description of a financial-news office where he meets a female reporter he hopes will help him on a case:

I noticed that all the men in the room were frozen into poses suggesting deep concentration while all the women seemed to be typing. Could it be that the men were transmitting thoughts to the women, who were typing them up? I suggested this to Linda Hillier. She looked at me speculatively.

More later.

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© Peter Rozovsky 2006

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Anonymous John Gooley said...

I'm Australian, but I didn't start reading Peter Temple until last year. I read lots of stuff other than crime, and the crime I do read is usually from the US and UK. But a friend kept telling me I had to read Temple. The first I read was Bad Debts. I enjoyed it and remember it clearly. And he gets better. It'll be interesting to hear your opinion when you've finished. I've still got a few more Temple books to read. I'd better get cracking. It's good to see him being championed.

October 15, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for the note. I'll certainly post my opinion here when I've finished. It's premature to say why the book feels different from other P.I. novels, but I'll take a crack at it anyway: Irish has hit rock bottom in ways similar to many other P.I.s, but he's done it without self-pity or moroseness.

I've found nothing not to like so far, and only one aspect that may be overly familiar from other stories. But I'll keep an open mind.

Like you, I'd best get cracking. This blogging really cuts into my reading time.

October 15, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

I forgot to mention that I also want to look for some of Garry Disher's Wyatt novels. His Hal Challis books seem relatively easy to find in the U.S., and I see that Bitter Lemon Press plans to publish one of them next year. But the Wyatt books are rare.

Any suggestions on where to find them, short of taking a vacation in Australia?

October 15, 2006  
Anonymous John Gooley said...

When I read Bad Debts, I'd heard people being so enthusiatic about Peter Temple for so long that I was expecting a hell of a lot. I wonder what my opinion would have been if I'd had no expectations. (But I won't say anything else about it just yet).

Unfortunately, I don't have any advice about the Wyatt books. I'll see what info I can find.

October 15, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Ha! I also won't say anything else about it just yet, except that, I, too, have that slight apprehension that, given the great buildup on Temple, my expectations might be too high. So far, though, things look good.

Thanks re the Wyatts.

October 15, 2006  
Blogger Damien said...

Finding Disher's Wyatt books in Australia is difficult enough let alone picking them up in the US. I can tell you that his 7th Wyatt book and 4th Challis book are both in the pipeline. Perhaps as his popularity rises, a US publisher will pick up the Wyatt books (which I've found to be very similar to Richard Stark's Parker series).

October 16, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

The Parker comparison is one of the attractions for me. I've read all but two of the Parkers, and some of the early ones, especially, are classics. Disher alludes and also refers directly to Parker (and to many other crime characters and authors) in the story "My Brother Jack," which I commented on a while back:

My favorite Parker allusion is that at one point Disher has two characters wearing rubber-soled shoes in order not to make noise. Parker and his colleagues do this all the time. Someone suggested that the Wyatt novels may even be a bit tongue-in-cheek.

I also notice that when Richard Stark brought Parker back after an absence of twenty-five years, the titles of the new Parker novels were very similar to the Wyatt titles: Comeback and Backflash for Parker, for instance; Paydirt and Kickback for Wyatt.

October 16, 2006  

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