In a state where police are mob and honesty a foreign concept, a murdered prostitute/Madame, Ruby Devine, provokes moral outrage from an honest cop. Something that should’ve been swept under the rug of ill justice turns Royal Commission. Accusations from both sides prove fatal; more damaging to physical wellbeing than defamation of character. For Swann, an outcast of the force he once gave his all, the mere suggestion of corruption provokes a series of events which leave him fearing for his life and those he holds dear.
Compounded by the disappearance of his daughter, the murder investigation (or lack thereof) of brothel Madame Ruby Devine, proves more sinister with rumours of the boys-in-blue being responsible for both incidents. Swann, portrayed as the epitome of justice in Australia’s 1970’s version of the Wild West, battles professional and personal conflicts on all fronts. Author David Whish-Wilson does a great job at fusing the two dynamics into a single, distinctly underworld crime that captures the period perfectly, casting a darker shade of noir without remorse on 1970’s Western Australia.
Despite assistance from some acquaintances, Swann acts as a lone wolf seeking answers where many find blood and ill fated half truths. His persistence, and underdog status captures the reader’s imagination and heart. You can’t help but barrack for this guy. Adding to the seemingly helpless crusade, Whish-Wilson creates layers of depth to the protagonist by establishing a less than perfect family life, unethical yet justified policing in prior posts (Kalgoorlie), and damning character traits that serve to prove Swann’s humanity more so than highlighting any inadequacies.
LINE OF SIGHT is as noir as Australian fiction gets. While the bleak plot leaves little room for the Hollywood sunshine and rainbows ending, it does promote a realism that’s hard to swallow – such is life. Prostitution, murder, corruption (political and police), drugs, scams, and organised crime formulate the backbone of the story, yet the characters carry the load and are bound to remain imbedded in my mind for a time to come. 4 stars.