Just three weeks into his new posting as the lone policeman
in Tiverton, a dusty and remote farming community, three
hours north of Adelaide in the harsh and unforgiving sweep
of wheat and wool country known as rural South Australia.
Constable Paul "Hirsch" Hirschhausen was told to check out
shots being fired out near Bitter Wash Road. What he wasn't
expecting was shots being fired at him!
Things turned out to not quite as they appeared at first
impression and Hirsch quickly figures that that that will
often be the case. Hirsch had previously worked as a
detective in Adelaide, yet had been rumoured to have served
the goods on a corrupt senior officer and is considered a
disgrace for grassing by most others on the force. Now
exiled both in geography and trust, few police officers
want to have to have anything to do with him, and neither is
he given a warm welcome by his new boss, Sgt. Kropp and his
two rough and racist officers in the nearest police outpost
at Redruth. How is Hirsch going to manage by himself in this
isolated and desolate outpost? Will be still be able to
make a difference or find himself killed?
The inspired author of HELL TO PAY, Garry Disher, is one of
Australia's best known writers with over 50 books to his
credit, primary in the genres of crime, literary and young
adult. Disher is rapidly gaining a strong and well-deserved
international reputation and HELL TO PAY will certainly add
to that reputation. HELL TO PAY was originally launched in
Australia late in 2013 as BITTER WASH ROAD and it is one
of the best police procedural books I have read this year!
HELL TO PAY is the first book of Disher's that I have read
and I am now a total fan.
Like a mirage on a summer road, HELL TO PAY just simmers
with tension from the first page and never lets up until its
shocking conclusion. The story line is strong and Hirsch is
a very interesting and likable protagonist. Despite his
surroundings and his downfall, he carries out his
responsibilities as a pro. Hirsch has an interesting and
likeable manner of interacting with people and is quick to
pick up when things seem a little off. He has his own sense
of honour and duty to what he believes in. For example,
without giving away too much of the story, he is loath to
leave the hit and run death of an teenage Aboriginal girl
to her just being a little whore and a hitchhiker as Sgt.
Kropp recommends and doggedly carries on with his
Disher is a masterful writer and with a just few brief words
and well selected phrases, he evokes the characters and
panoramic scenes of this more desolate part of Australia
that seems so real to you, even if you have not been to that
side of the world. The dialogue is authentic and you can
just feel the bleakness and poverty of spirit as well as
place in some of the character's lives with small bits of
hope mixed with other emotions as people try to get on with
their lives. Some of the Australian expressions may be
foreign to some North American readers, but their intention
is always clear and easy to figure out.
HELL TO PAY is written as a stand-alone novel and all the
small clues are nicely wrapped at the end, however, I sure
hope this is not the end of Hirsch as a character. I for
one definitely want more and I am sure anyone who reads HELL
TO PAY will feel the same way. It is a novel filled with
rural corruption, entrenched racism and despicable
treatment. I can't recommend HELL TO PAY highly enough!
A modern western set in an isolated Australian bush town
with a soaring crime rate, where a local constable with a
troubled past must investigate the death of a teenage girl
whose murder threatens to set the dusty streets ablaze.
Constable Paul Hirschhausenâ€”â€ťHirschâ€ťâ€”is a recently demoted
detective sent from Adelaide, Australiaâ€™s southernmost
booming metropolis, to Tiverton, a one-road town in rustic,
backwater â€śwool and wheatâ€ť country three hours north. Hirsch
isnâ€™t just a disgraced cop; the internal investigations
bureau is still trying to convict him of something, even if
it means planting evidence. When someone leaves a pistol
cartridge in his mailbox, Hirsch suspects that his career
isn't the only thing on the line.
But the tiny town of Tiverton has more crime than one lone
cop should have to handle. The stagnant economy, rural
isolation, and entrenched racism and misogyny mean every
case Hirsch investigates is a new basket of snakes. When the
body of a 16-year-old local girl is found on the side of the
highway, the situation in Tiverton gets even more sinister,
and whether or not he finds her killer, thereâ€™s going to be
hell to pay.