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AN IRON ROSE
by Peter Temple
Quercus, May 2007
320 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 1847240313


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Mac Faraday is working as a blacksmith in small-town Australia. When his friend Ned Lowey is found hanged, most people pass it off as suicide. But Mac doesn't believe this especially when he finds some old newspaper cuttings and discovers that Ned had been asking questions about the mysterious Kinross Hall.

So he starts asking questions of his own and rapidly uncovers all manner of unpleasant secrets, including the mystery of a young woman found badly beaten by the side of a remote country road. And yes, Mac's life is soon in danger.

Peter Temple has written a PI series and a number of standalones. THE BROKEN SHORE, one of the latter, was in my top books last year. AN IRON ROSE is equally gripping reading.

Temple's strength is small-town Australia and buried secrets. Mac is cut from the same cloth as Joe Cashin, the hero of THE BROKEN SHORE they're in the back of beyond, have secrets of their own and won't take no for an answer.

Mac's settled into a routine existence, what with his work, his football and visits to the pub. But it's obvious from very early on that there's something hidden in his past and about my only criticism of the book is that it takes Temple a bit too long to unveil this. I did realise much later that there was probably a clue earlier on in the book, but you're likely to miss it if you're not au fait with Aussie slang (come on, watching Neighbours only helps so far!)

AN IRON ROSE is a must-read, and it's great news that the books are finally available in the UK (this one dates from 1998). Temple has dry humour, a sharp eye for detail and the dialogue zings. My personal favourite with the latter was an exchange in the spit-and-sawdust town pub between the publican and one of the customers:

"'Tabletop dancers,' Flannery said. 'That's the go. Uni girls shakin their titties, showin us the business. Have a pickin-up-the-spud competition.'

Vinnie looked over to where two elderly male customers were grumbling at each other. 'Tabletop dancers? Need a bloody ambulance on standby outside. Mind you, that fuckin' cook'll need an ambulance if he doesn't come in the door in two minutes.'"

Temple is writing towards the noir end of the genre, but he does deadpan humour beautifully (I liked the bit where the football team would watch the bargain bin motivational videos, come out tugging their jock-straps and would be five goals down by quarter-time!) Unlike the team, AN IRON ROSE is a sure-fire winner.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, April 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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