‘Bad Debts’ by Peter Temple


(Five Stars)
Occasional lawyer and part-time sleuth, Jack Irish is used to trouble. Taking work as a debt-collector he idles away his spare time at the racetrack or helping out in a cabinetmaker’s shop. But when a former client leaves a message on Jack’s answering machine, he ignores it until the next day, by which time the caller has been shot and killed. A sense of obligation pushes Jack to investigate, but while the case seems to go nowhere, things suddenly start to happen. Dangerous things.

This is the first volume in the Jack Irish Thriller series and the first I’ve read by Peter Temple. The author’s clever use of language, with its mix of Aussie colloquialisms and witty observations reminded me of James Ellroy, though the style is quite different. The story slides around for a while appearing to go nowhere in particular, but then the plot begins to fall into place, bringing the strands together and creating a clever and unexpected story that left me hungry for more. What I really liked was the way that, even though this is the first book, Temple presents his hero fully formed and raring to go.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.

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