Gunshot Road is the second novel by Adrian Hyland featuring Emily Tempest. It is set in the Australian outback. The book opens when Emily (a half-aboriginal, half-white) returns to her roots. Tom McGillivray, superintendent of the Bluebush Police, has offered her a job; not as a real cop just an ACPO (Aboriginal Community Police Officer) which means limited powers. ‘I could arrest people but I couldn’t shoot them’. The clincher in the deal is a four-wheel-drive, Government owned, fuelled and maintained. On her first day on the job, McGillivray is in the hospital with several broken bones. His replacement, Sergeant Bruce Cockburn, sees Emily’s role as making tea and provide liaison between ‘us’ and the Aborigines. But soon they have to face a murder case. At first sight it all seems pretty straightforward but Emily decides to investigate by her own. Something’s out of place. Something’s wrong. She knows it is. She can feel it.
It is worth noting several aspects of this book. Among the most notable ones the fascinating characters that the reader will encounter, most notably Emily Tempest. Besides the story is beautifully told, it flows naturally and it has a great sense of place. Gunshot Road is one of these books that hook you from the very beginning. I can’t find an adequate adjective for this novel, they all seem insufficient to me. It is an intelligent, witty and fascinating story, sometimes tragic but seasoned with doses of humour; a delicious reading capable to convey a great deal of sensations and feelings.
Adrian Hyland won Australia’s 2007 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Novel for Moonlight Downs, published in Australia as Diamond Dove, which was also a Book Sense Notable book. He spent many years in the Northern Territory living and working among the indigenous people. He now teaches at La Trobe University and lives in Melbourne. Gunshot Road is his second novel.
This is my third book covering Australasia at Dorte’s 2010 Global Reading Challenge.
Gunshot Road has been reviewed by Glenn at International Noir Fiction, Maxine at Petrona, Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, Rob at The View from the Blue House, among others. See also an Adrian Hyland’s Interview at Scene of the Crime.
Number of pages: 374