At the close of a long day, Inspector Stephen Villani stands in the bathroom of a luxury apartment high above the city. In the glass bath, a young woman lies dead, a panic button within reach.
So begins Truth, the sequel to Peter Temple’s bestselling masterpiece, The Broken Shore, winner of the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Best Crime Novel.
Villani’s life is his work. It is his identity, his calling, his touchstone. But now, over a few sweltering summer days, as fires burn across the state and his superiors and colleagues scheme and jostle, he finds all the certainties of his life are crumbling.
Truth is a novel about a man, a family, a city. It is about violence, murder, love, corruption, honour and deceit. And it is about truth.
TRUTH is really only the sequel to THE BROKEN SHORE in the sense that one book follows another. Joe Cashin, the focal point of THE BROKEN SHORE, makes only an occasional appearance in TRUTH. But perhaps the "sequel-ness" lies in other things.
Stephen Villani is the head of the Victoria Police Homicide Squad, and this novel is about him as much as it is about the crimes his squad tries to solve. The primary rule that governs and ruins his life is HCF, the same rule that governed the life of his predecessor and role model Singo. HCF stands for Homicide Comes First, and for Villani it boils down to a dysfunctional family, including a 15 year old daughter out of control and somewhere out on the streets.
As Villani struggles to cope with the present his mind is filled with flashbacks, times when he and those around him have crossed the line, accepted handouts, called in favours, and at the same time tried to do right by victims of crime. Criminal investigations are hindered by political agendas, and Villani is feted, cajoled, flattered, and threatened by those who want him to sweep their secrets under the carpet. There is no doubting his power to do this if he wishes - he is after all the head of the Homicide Squad. Sure he answers to those higher up the feeding chain than he, but they like him live on the knife-edge of investigative success.
The media is always waiting for a slip, circling like sharks, ready for a feeding frenzy, ready to cut down the tall poppy. Villani's career appears to be on the line several times during TRUTH. Although the focus of TRUTH is Villani, and he and those around him question why they do this job, the central story is on a much broader canvas: Victoria in the grip of bushfires, a government teetering on the brink of an election, men with money and dreams, Villani's own history and a forest that means almost more to him than anything else in the world.
Peter Temple is the master of a clipped and terse literary style, where dialogue feels like real conversation. There are times when he uses a word rather than a sentence, in some ways the style reminds me of a former Australian great - Patrick White.
Review by Kerrie Smith, MYSTERIES IN PARADISE
About Peter Temple:
Born in South Africa January 1946.
Peter Temple is an Australian crime fiction writer.
Formerly a journalist and journalism lecturer, Temple turned to fiction writing in the 1990s. His Jack Irish novels (Bad Debts, Black Tide, Dead Point, and White Dog) are set in Melbourne, Australia, and feature an unusual lawyer-gambler protagonist. He has also written three stand-alone novels.
He has won five Ned Kelly Awards for crime fiction, the most recent in 2006 for The Broken Shore, which also won the Colin Roderick Award.The Broken Shore also won the Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger in 2007. Temple is the first Australian to win a Gold Dagger.