Detective: Inspector Hal Challis
Location: Australia, present day
Australia may be one of the closest places to paradise on earth, but it still has plenty of crime and mayhem. Nonetheless, it's never been a major player in the mystery writing business. Even the little country of Belgium has produced more famous fictional detectives. (You remember: the one named Hercules who kept reminding everyone – mon dieu! – that he's not French.)
We may need to rethink the land Down Under. "Whispering Death," the latest by prolific Australian author Garry Disher, is top-notch. An intricate police procedural with a heart, it reveals its author's remarkable knack at unraveling the complications of workplace tensions and personal relationships.
The star is not the detective but a woman named Grace. Well, make that "Grace" – "as good a name as any." She's young, lithe, and attractive, no one's idea of an expert burglar who knows all the tricks to avoid detection in the houses of Australia's upper crust.
But it isn't the cops she's worried about. Someone is on her trail. And she's chased by something else too – a sense of the life she could have led, with a family and a home, friends and love. "They weren't the kind of things she'd be allowed to have. But now...."
Now she's seeing things in a different light.
"Whispering Death" tracks several stories in addition to Grace's robberies and ruminations: a budding (and very modern) romance at the office, a detective's fight with his bosses over his big mouth, and a serial killer on the loose.
Fortunately, the author knows how to juggle all these story lines. Trust me, mate: Readers will want to make a return visit to Disher's Australia.