Monday, April 11, 2005

Peter Temple's Shooting Star

Yesterday I read Shooting Star, an award-winning novel by Australian (despite his South African birthplace) crime novelist Peter Temple. I found this book (and this author) through Jenny at Light Reading. She calls Shooting Star 'the perfect book' -- I'm not sure if I would call it perfect, but it's damned good.

In Shooting Star, narrator Frank Calder, an ex-soldier, ex-hostage negotiator, and financially-strapped independent mediator, is hired by the wealthy Carson family to hand over a ransom payment for a kidnapped 15-year old Carson heiress. Frank advises the family to call the police, regardless of the kidnappers' instructions: "'[We're] At the point where we phone the cops,' I said. 'You're not dealing with the greedy. The unhinged, that's what you've got here. And this is personal.'" (p51). Of course, the Carson patriarch refuses. Things quickly get complicated and Frank starts a little investigation of his own on the missing girl and her assorted relatives (including MIA dad, institutionalized mom, black sheep cousin...). He brings in an army buddy to be his wingman, Michael Orlovsky.

Here's a little sample, to show you why this novel was so entertaining:

In the car, driving back to the Carsons', I said to Orlovsky, 'We may have to rethink this. They may have smart technology but these people are not A-list kidnappers. They would be lucky to get onto any list. Not without expanding the alphabet.'

'Is that good or bad?'

'Bad, very bad. The stupid are capable of anything.'

'Unlike the clever, who are generally capable of nothing.'

'Nothing this clumsy,' I said.

'On the other hand,' Orlovsky said, 'they may not be stupid. Perhaps they just don't care very much.'

I didn't want to hear that. I said, "Don't say that. Not caring is much worse than stupid.' (p78)

More information about Peter Temple:
  • Peter Temple's bio.
  • A review of another Temple crime novel, In the Evil Day.
  • A blogger reviews Temple's Jack Irish series.
  • A holiday gift-giving suggestion from Peter Temple via
  • has this to say about Peter Temple:
Of the more hard-boiled writers, Peter Temple is clearly the leader of the pack. His seven novels to date are all consistently very good and have won a record four Ned Kelly Awards for excellence in Australian crime writing. Four of his books have featured Jack Irish, a disgraced lawyer and habitual gambler who has fallen on bad times and now earns a living finding people who do not want to be found. They are slickly written and exciting tales and, along with his two stand-alone crime novels, An Iron Rose and Shooting Star, paint an evocative picture of the rain-swept streets of Melbourne. Temple has also written a terrific international thriller, In the Evil Day, about dark deeds and old secrets set in England and Europe.

Ever stumble across an author whose work is new to you and wonder how you could possibly have missed his (or her) books all your life? Peter Temple is just such a find! He’s a very popular Australian crime novelist and three-time winner of the Ned Kelly Award. We are extremely pleased to introduce his outside-Australia debut. Identity Theory is a multi-layered espionage thriller which follows three damaged people whose lives have been shaped by events beyond their control. First, there’s Con Niemand, an ex-mercenary whose body-guard job goes violently south, salvaging only a video-tape showing what appear to be American soldiers eradicating a tiny African village. Then there’s John Anselm, a former journo whose days as a hostage in Beirut ended his reporting days forever. He works for a shady surveillance/information retrieval firm in Germany, permanently in the shadows… Add Caroline Wishart, a London tabloid reporter with a reputation for stories than rent-boys and insipid scandals, who wants to tackle REAL NEWS…and you have one explosive cocktail!

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