DEAD LOVELY, Helen Fitzgerald

This review was originally posted on DJ’s Krimiblog in October 2009.
We thank Dorte for her kind permision to republish it here.

This thriller is the author´s debut. Helen Fitzgerald grew up in Australia, but has made her career as a writer in Glasgow.

As the bait quotation shows, we are told on the very first page that Krissie, the main character, cheats on her best friend and eventually kills her. Their friendship started to go wrong when Sarah wanted a child badly, and Krissie got pregnant by accident. As you may have guessed by now, the friends are very different: Sarah is the cautious little housewife, Krissie experiments with this and that, and is hardly ready to settle down with a baby.

And after this introduction, the question why Krissie killed her friend is answered over three hundred pages told by a handful of different characters who are clearly on collision course. This grizzly murder should not be funny, nevertheless it is.

A fast read, but refreshing and quite entertaining. Should I call it light noir, or noir light?

BAD DEBTS, Peter Temple

This review first appeared on DJ’s Krimiblog on 7 January 2010.
We thank Dorte for her kind permission to republish it here.

[Denne australske krimi er ikke oversat til dansk, men det er den prisbelønnede “Den knuste kyst” fra 2008]
A taste of the style (p 7):

“Eddie Dollery´s skin wasn´t looking good. He´d cut himself several times shaving and each nick was wearing a little red-centred rosette of toilet paper. The rest of Eddie, bloated, was wearing yesterday´s superfine cotton business shirt, striped, and scarlet pyjama pants, silk. The overall effect was not fetching.”

Jack Irish, the first-person narrator, is a former lawyer, a debt collector and detective who still struggles to come to terms with the loss of his beloved wife some years earlier. The plot begins when an old client, Danny McKillop, leaves a message on Irish´s phone, asking him for help. Irish checks up on the old case which took place soon after his wife´s death, finding out that McKillop was convicted of culpable driving, killing a woman while he was intoxicated. Jack Irish gets the message too late, and soon after McKillop is shot down by a policeman in ´self-defence´. Irish speaks with friends and relatives, and soon new information makes him uncertain whether McKillop really committed the crime he was sent to prison for.

The case also involves politics (giving me the impression that Peter Temple is not exactly impressed by their honesty and integrity) and a touch of conspiracy. And at some point the police give Jack Irish the feeling they want him to ´give the case a miss´. Well, we all know what will happen next, don´t we?
No more about the exciting and well-wrought plot. Temple gives a clear impression of the Melbourne environment and a colourful impression of Australian English.

A taste of Australian geography:
“It takes hours to get to Perth, flying over the huge shark-infested dent in the continent called the Great Australian Bight. And when you get there, you´re two hours in the past. I didn´t know Perth; it was just an airport on the way to Europe. They tell me the locals have secessionist tendencies. I can understand that. Judging by the accents, they´ll probably have a fight over whether to rename the State Manchester or Birmingham.”

I have been looking forward to the Jack Irish series, and in spite of the conspiracy aspect (not exactly my favourite plot), I enjoyed the debut thoroughly. (Dash it, now I will have to add number two, three and four to my list).

I bought this book myself.