Review: WHISPERING DEATH , Garry Disher

  • Publisher, Text Publishing Melbourne 2011
  • ISBN 978-1-921758-59-1
  • 330 pages
  • Source: borrowed from a friend

Publisher’s Blurb

Hal Challis is in trouble at home and abroad: carpeted by the boss for speaking out about police budget cuts; missing his lover, Ellen Destry, who is overseas on a study tour.

But there’s plenty to keep his mind off his problems. A rapist in a police uniform stalks Challis’s Peninsula beat, there is a serial armed robber headed in his direction and a home invasion that’s a little too close to home. Not to mention a very clever, very mysterious female cat burglar who may or may not be planning something on Challis’s patch.

Meanwhile, at the Waterloo Police Station, Challis finds his offsiders have their own issues. Scobie Sutton, still struggling with his wife’s depression, seems to be headed for a career crisis; and something very interesting is going on between Constable Pam Murphy and Jeanne Schiff, the feisty young sergeant on secondment from the Sex Crimes Unit.

In his sixth Peninsula murder mystery, Garry Disher keeps the tension and intrigue ramped up exquisitely on multiple fronts, while he takes his regular characters in compelling new directions. Disher is a grand master of the police procedural, operating at the peak of his craft.

Read the first chapter on the author’s website.

My take

WHISPERING DEATH affirms that Garry Disher is a master storyteller, a tight and consummate plotter, a writer who could sit on any international podium along with richer and more famous crime fiction writers – and thank goodness he is going to be at Adelaide Writers’ Week in March 2012.

There are some interesting pictures of Australian lifestyles

… this morning Grace was in Hobart, strolling through a well-heeled corner of Sandy Bay… a land of two-car households, two adults working nine to five in well paid jobs. No shift workers here.

and then later

Today she had a clear run on the toll road between Melbourne airport and the city, and again when she headed over the West Gate Bridge, high winds buffeting the little car, and down into Williamstown, where the mean grind of old Melbourne co-existed with bright young mortgages. Factories and workshops sat next to pastelly little townhouses with cute, candy-coloured cars in the driveways. Grace wound down her window. The air, dense and still, was faintly salted from the Bay. The trees, branches barely moving, seemed dazed from years-long drought.

Several elements of Hal Challis’ life seem to come to an end in WHISPERING DEATH. He decides to sell his restored 1930s Dragon Rapide that he has worked on for the last 10 years. He sees this as representing a phase of his life that has come to an end. He decides also to sell his elderly Triumph TR4, this time because it needs a lot of work done on it, and he no longer has the time or motivation.

And then he voices criticisms of the resourcing problems Peninsula policing is experiencing, to local reporter, and it seems that his time on the Peninsula may be coming to an end too. He seals his fate when he rushes out of an interview with his boss and a couple of other big-wigs to answer his mobile phone.

His mobile phone sounded in his pocket. He checked the screen, saw McQarrie’s name on the screen and knew he couldn’t keep avoiding the man. 

He answered and McQarrie said, ‘What possessed you, Inspector, walking out on – ‘ 

Challis overrode him. ‘A home invasion and then a murder, that’s what possessed me.

Silence, and he found himself adding, ‘Doing my job, in fact,’ guessing he was driving another nail into the lid of his coffin.’

So, if you are looking for some quality Australian crime fiction, here is another title, another author to add to your list. You won’t be disappointed.

All the titles in the series are available on Amazon for your Kindle too.

My rating: 4.8

Read Bernadette’s review on Fair Dinkum Crime

The Challis & Destry novels

The Dragon Man (1999)
Kittyhawk Down (2003)
Snapshot (2005)
Chain of Evidence (2007)
Blood Moon (2009)
Whispering Death (2011)

Somehow I have missed reading BLOOD MOON but here is my database record of CHAIN OF EVIDENCE:
#4 in the Hal Challis and Ellen Destry series. Hal Challis has returned to South Australia – his father is dying- leaving D. S. Ellen Destry in charge of both his house and Mornington Peninsular East’s Crime Investigation Unit. And suddenly now in Waterloo a 10 year old girl is missing, feared abducted. Katie Blasko went missing after school but her parents did not realize it until the next morning. Filling Challis’ shoes is not going to be easy – Destry’s colleagues expect her to fail. But Ellen is in constant contact with Hal, both her friend and her mentor. At Mawson’s Bluff in South Australia, Challis is not only helping to look after his father, but trying to find out what has happened to his missing brother-in-law. A satisfying read.