Mystery and crime books from Australia. News, views, reviews, releases and author appearances - crime fiction in Australia. Crime novels, mystery novels, detective stories, police procedural books, thrillers and soft-boiled mysteries

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Reading : The Build Up by Phillip Gwynne

I have just finished one of the most enjoyable books I've read this year. The Build Up by Phillip Gwynne is set in Darwin, Australia and features homicide detective Frances "Dusty" Buchanon, a female cop in a male-dominated part of the world.

Hidden amid the easy, knockabout tone of the book lies a nicely crafted murder mystery. The story is based around the discovery of a body...which then goes missing, closely followed by Dusty's position as a homicide detective. Somehow, Dusty has to convince her colleagues that there was a body in the first place, but there's a reason it has disappeared.

The strength of The Build Up lies in the colourful characters dotted throughout, from Dusty herself to Senior Sergeant Dave Kirk who still prefers to call Dusty a frontbum and on to former Australian Rules football star Rob 'Trigger' Tregenza (and his use of a certain Hawthorn footy jumper). Each and every Northern Territorian is given an easy, relaxed attitude that seems to epitomise the land itself.

Gwynne's Darwin is an isolated city that is stolidly casual in attitude with a laid back style that is underlined by every broken rule and politically incorrect comment that is embraced with glee throughout the book. Brothels, Long Grassers, an oppressive heat, an ocean you can't swim in because of the box jellyfish and an endless forbidding landscape in every direction. It's a setting that is different from just about every murder mystery I have ever read and I loved every page of it.

This is a story that works on many levels. From the first page to the last it is engaging with injections of humour softening you up for the serious business of solving a murder and dealing with some shady, extremely dangerous characters.

From what I've heard there is another Dusty Buchanon novel in the works which is great news because one book is simply not enough.

No comments: