The Broken Shore by Peter Temple


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Quercus paperback, 2007. First published 2005. 400 pages. ISBN: 9781847240446.

Detective Sargent Joe Cashin from homicides in Melbourne has return to his hometown in the coast of Victoria to recuperate from some mental and physical injuries. While working as a local police he’s rebuilding the old family house. The tranquillity of the place is broken when a prominent philanthropist, Charles Burgoyne, is left for dead at his house, brutally bashed. Everyone suspects a robbery. Only an expensive watch missing. Three young Aboriginals, the main suspects. During an attempt to arrest them, things go terribly wrong. As a result two of them die, the third one is detained. Pending trial the young man is left on parole. He runs away, apparently harassed by the police. He is found dead, an accident or a suicide. Case closed, not for Cashin.

Cashin looked out the window at the sky, hated Kendall for a while, her quick stupidity. He saw the sparks, the crushed ute, the rain, the blood in the puddles. The boys, broken, life leaking away. He thought about his son. He had a boy.
‘It only looks like it, Ken,’ he said. ‘Nobody should die because we think they might have done something wrong. Nobody gave us that power.’ (page 124)

I have really enjoyed reading The Broken Shore, it’s superbly written. The story, narrated in brief chapters with short, laconic sentences, evolves in 400 pages length where the characters are much more relevant than the plot in itself. A powerful novel that does not allow the reader a moment of ease covering also a wide variety of issues, friendship, family tragedies, politics, police corruption, racism, etc… The action, set in rural Australia, has a strong sense of place but has also a universal significance. A masterpiece. I’m looking forward to reading Truth.

Peter Temple, Australia’s most acclaimed crime and thriller writer, was born in South Africa and moved to Australia in the 1980s together with his wife. Formerly a journalist and journalism lecturer, Temple turned to fiction writing in the 1990s. He is the author of four Jack Irish novels: Bad Debts (1996), Black Tide (1999), Dead Point (2000) and White Dog (2003).  They are set in Melbourne, Australia featuring an unusual lawyer-gambler protagonist. He has also written stand-alone novels: An Iron Rose (1998), Shooting Star (1999), In the Evil Day (2002) (aka Identity Theory), as well as The Broken Shore (2005) and its semi-sequel, Truth (2009). He has won five Ned Kelly Awards for crime fiction, the most recent in 2006 for The Broken Shore, which also won the Colin Roderick Award for best Australian book and the Australian Book Publishers’ Award for best general fiction. The Broken Shore also won the Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger in 2007.  In 2010, Peter Temple won the Miles Franklin Literary Award for his novel Truth.

The Broken Shore has been reviewed by Kimbofo at Reading Matters, NacyO at The crime segments, by Benhunt at Material Witness, Notman at Crime Scraps, Dorte at Djskrimiblog, and both, Bernadette and Maxime, have given their highest marks to this book but I have not been able to find their reviews.

I’ll count it as my second reading for the 2011 Aussie Author Challenge and for the 2011 Global Reading Challenge (Australasia).

La costa maldita de Peter Temple

El sargento detective Joe Cashin de la brigada de homicidios en Melbourne ha regresado a su ciudad natal en la costa de Victoria para recuperarse de algunas lesiones mentales y físicas. Mientras trabaja como policía local está reconstruyendo la antigua casa familiar. La tranquilidad del lugar se rompe cuando un destacado filántropo, Charles Burgoyne, es dejado por muerto en su casa, brutalmente golpeado. Todo el mundo sospecha de un robo. Sólo falta un reloj de lujo. Tres jóvenes aborígenes, los principales sospechosos. Durante un intento por arrestarles, las cosas salen terriblemente mal. Como resultado, dos de ellos mueren, el tercero es detenido. En espera de juicio el joven queda en libertad condicional. Se escapa, posiblemente ​​por el acoso de la policía. Es encontrado muerto, un accidente o un suicidio. Caso cerrado, no para Cashin.

Cashin miró hacia el cielo por la ventana, durante un tiempo odió a Kendall por su impetuosa estupidez. Vio las chispas, el utilitario aplastado, la lluvia, la sangre en los charcos. Los muchachos, rotos, la vida fugándose. Pensó en su hijo. El tenía un hijo.
“Sólo se le parece, Ken,” dijo. “Nadie debería morir porque pensamos que podrían haber hecho algo malo. Nadie nos dio esa potestad.” (página 124 de mi edición)

He disfrutado mucho leyendo La costa maldita (Paidós, 2007), está magníficamente escrito. La historia, narrada en breves capítulos con frases cortas y lacónicas, se desarrolla en 400 páginas, en donde los personajes son mucho más relevantes que el argumento en sí. Una novela poderosa que no le otorga al lector un momento de descanso, y que abarca también una gran variedad de temas, amistad, tragedias familiares, política, corrupción policial, racismo, etc … La acción, ambientada en la Australia rural, tiene un fuerte sentido del lugar, pero tiene también un significado universal. Una obra maestra. Estoy deseando leer Truth.

Peter Temple, el escritor de crimen y misterio más reconocido de Australia, nació en Sudáfrica y se trasladó a Australia en la década de los 80 junto con su mujer. Con anterioridad fue periodista y profesor de periodismo, Temple empezó a escribir novelas en la década de los 90. Es autor de cuatro novelas protagonizadas por Jack Irish: Malas Deudas (1996), Black Tide (1999), Dead Point (2000) y White Dog (2003) que ee desarrollan en Melbourne, Australia con un portagonista poco usual, abogado y jugador. También ha escrito varias novelas independientes: An Iron Rose (1998), Shooting Star (1999), In the Evil Day (2002) (también conocido como Identity Theory), así como La costa maldita (2005) y su semi-secuela Truth (2009). Ha ganado cinco veces el Premio Ned Kelly de novela negra, el más reciente en el 2006 por La costa maldita , que también ganó el premio Colin Roderick al mejor libro australiano y el Premio de los Editores australianos a la mejor novela de ficción. La costa maldita consiguió el Duncan Lawrie Dagger de la CWA en el 2007. En el 2010, Peter Temple ganó el premio de literatura Miles Franklin por su novela Truth.

Paidós

Ver las reseñas de Javier Romero en StarDust y de Jesus Lens en Pateando el mundo.

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15 thoughts on “The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

  1. José Ignacio – I am very glad you liked this one as much as you did. I, too, really like the way that Temple weaves the larger themes into his novels while also making us care about the characters. I can’t make assumptions, of course, but I believe you will really, really enjoy Truth. In my opinion, it’s a superb novel.

  2. Jose Escribano-The Broken Shore was very good, and I thought that Truth was even better. Peter Temple is certainly one of those must read writers.

  3. I agree with your review. In fact, I liked this book better than Truth, believe it or not. I passed it on to friends to read. Peter Temple knows how to write. If I could find more of his recommended books at my library, I’d read them.

  4. So glad you liked this, Jose Ignacio, and great review that captures the book’s poetry so well. I did not review it, actually, I read it after it won the Gold Dagger and so many other people were reviewing it at that time that I felt I could not add anything. It is nice to read a review now after some time has passed. I hope you enjoy Truth, it is not really a sequel though some of the same characters are in it. It’s a powerful book.

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