Sharp, on target and to the point, or Peter Temple and darts
This was a kick for me, as I've recently resumed my darts career, and I know what darts sound like; I mentally supplied the thwack! thwack! thwack! of the darts hitting the board. The scene also contains a nice piece of descriptive writing: "Barry drank some beer, sighted, threw, just a little explosion of fingers." I've seen darts shooters who lurched, bounced, or lunged, and, for all the spectacle they created, they sucked at darts. Temple's crisp prose matches the no-nonsense approach that makes for a proficient darts player and a pleasant darts game.
The particular game Irish and his friend play is a nice touch, too. In the double-out games, the players start with a given score, usually 301, 501, or 701, and have to work their way down to zero, with the final shot being a double. That is, if a player is down to two points, he wins by hitting a double one. Hitting the two does no good. A game in which players must work their way down to zero (subtle echoes of time running out?), then end the game with a shot of special precision seems nicely suited to a thriller.
It had been a while between my reading of Bad Debts, the first Irish novel, and Black Tide, and memory can play tricks. It seems to me, though, that in the later book, Temple did a better job of integrating plot elements of staggering complexity into the story. (In Bad Debts, the crooked deal involved land. In Black Tide, it involves laundered money.) I seem to recall occasionally losing interest in the baroque details of the land-development scheme (without ever enjoying the fine novel the less because of it).
I recall no similar reaction to the even more complicated deals in Black Tide, perhaps because Temple has Irish himself express befuddlement. I don't remember his having done so in Bad Debts, though I'd have to check to be sure. If I'm right, that's another nice touch on Temple's part in Black Tide, a clever way of humanizing the protagonist and making the complicated plot easier for the reader to accept.
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Australian crime fiction