Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pufferfish: Return of the world's prickliest detective

David Owen's Franz "Pufferfish" Heineken, the prickly detective inspector in Hobart, capital of the Australian state of Tasmania, is back, his prickliness mellowed into wry, sardonic observation and acceptance that just rarely flare into open rebellion. In compensation, 13-Point Plan for a Perfect Murder is a terrific mystery and a tragedy and a comedy at the same time, with amusing and affecting allusions and references to George Eliot thrown in.

As always, the wit is here. as in the description of a polo club as
"a strange but beguiling rather than tacky mixture of showy wealth and understated environmentally conscious good taste."
"Another little session of silence, which seems to bemuse Brody Hearn somewhat. It;s calling thinking, son."
As a bonus, the novel answers my one complaint about Devil Taker (1997), the fourth Pufferfish novel and the last before the character returned in 2009. Owen is also a naturalist who has written several book on endangered species in Tasmania, where he lives, and I thought Devil Taker let that interest crowd out the crime.

, by contrast, introduces interesting information about the animal and plant life of Tasmania unobtrusively and always in ways relevant to the plot. Readers might be amused that his description of Tasmanian devils, related in an utterly straightforward way, is very close to the fictional Tasmanian devil that many of us know.
I've liked Pufferfish for years, since I read the character's explanation of the moniker thus: "The nickname's Pufferfish. A prickly, toxic bastard, ability to inflate and even explode when severely provoked." Read my previous Detective Beyond Borders posts about Pufferfish (click the link, and scroll down.)

And should you happen to be near Hobart this Thursday, July 21, visit Fullers Bookshop for the novel's launch.

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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Blogger seana graham said...

Pufferfish sounds interesting, and I don't believe I've heard of these books before.

But I don't recall the Tasmanian devil character either, and I must have seen some of those cartoons.

July 18, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Pufferfish novels have been published in Australia and the UK; I'm not sure they've ever been published here. I found out about them because back when I started Detectives Beyond Borders, the first group of readers I fell in with were from Australia, and there are some good, comprehensive Web sites and databases of Australian crime fiction.

I am surprised you don't recall the Tasmanian devil, a confession of ignorance I never expected from an inquiring mind like yours.

July 18, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...

Well, I only inquire about what I become aware of, however belatedly.

July 18, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

But you know so much! A Confessions of Ignorance post on Tasmanian devils, perhaps?

July 18, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...


July 18, 2016  

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