Review: The Broken Shore

The Broken Shore
The Broken Shore by Peter Temple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: My local library (you could get a copy from The Book Depository)

Going back to my high school years, I remember loving an Aussie cop show called Blue Heelers. This drama series is set in a small town where everybody knows everybody. This is the setting this book reminds me of, a small town where you’d know everybody and certain wheels of ‘politics’ which kept the town running ‘peacefully’. The story is being told, however, from the perspective of Detective Joe Cashin, a city detective seconded to this little town, where he grew up, to ‘recover’.

I found it a little hard to get into it at first because of 2 things. I was a little disoriented as I’ve just finished reading Stormdancer (Japanese steampunk) so the difference in setting threw me off a bit but I just had to get my head screwed on right. The second thing was that it felt I was picking up a book in the middle of a series which it is not. There were names bandied about as if the reader would know who they are or what, in context, they imply. This may refer to the fact that in this small town, you would either know the person mentioned or someone in their family or be related to them one way or another.

Another thing that kinda threw me off is the Aussie lingo. Yes, I know I’m Aussie but unfortunately, it’s not often that I read Aussie books. Or maybe, it’s just the humour that is so close to what my friends & I would joke around with, as I found myself smirking snorting and chucking over bits throughout the book.

He pissed from the verandah, onto the weeds. It didn’t bother them.

I really didn’t know whether to laugh or to be disgusted! I guess if you live in Whoop Whoop, you can do whatever you bloody want to.

‘Not a fucking joking matter this.’

– as opposed to the grammatically correct, ‘This is not a fucking joking matter.’ Yes, we do speak this way a lot of the time – disjointed much?

Irreverent humour which at times is borderline coarse combined with the disjointed Aussie speech are what made the book felt like home for me. Let’s not forget that The Broken Shore is a crime fiction which explores something truly dark (crimes from which each one of us will flinched from) but it also made overtures of what it means to live.

…The neighbour was here. Left something for you. Wrapped like a present.’
‘I need a present,’ said Cashin. ‘Long time since anyone gave me a present.’
‘Being alive’s a present,’ said Rebb. ‘Every minute of every hour of every day.’

Whilst the mystery was well woven, there were other things which were called into question. Things that were happening in our society which we let passed, things not quite fitting into procedures being let slide, things where you’re told to let go… I’m left to reflect whether I do too let little things bypass me even when they don’t seem to be quite right, is it the right thing to do?

If you like your crime / mystery fiction with lots of drama, I would recommend this book to you.

View all my reviews

3 thoughts on “Review: The Broken Shore

  1. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting

    I’m not much of a crime reader, so I haven’t read any Temple, but there was a good interview with him on The Book Show (?) a few years back that I quite enjoyed.

    I know what you mean about the Aussie colloquialisms, too. The ones that you’ve quoted here don’t bother me too much, but every now and then I’ll read something and just cringe! Of course, any book full of slang or regionalisms can fall into the same trap, I suppose.

    1. Tien Post author

      “regionalisms”! Sounds politically correct, ha ha ha…

      I’ve just finished Truth today for my f2f bookclub and not one person liked it (including me) although 2 of us who’ve read The Broken Shore agreed that we liked this one much better.

  2. Pingback: Review: Truth « Tien's Blurb

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