Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work—welfare checks and working bees—is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and even though he’s working, he’s ready for things to be a little peaceful. He gets to be the town Santa this year, and to judge the Christmas Lights competition. He’s also hoping that a small grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car will be all the trouble he needs to deal with.
Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident the night after the town Christmas celebration. Why would someone massacre a herd of show ponies? Add to this a child left in a car in the hot summer and a confronting YouTube video, Hirsch is starting to wonder if this really is the season of goodwill after all. Finally, he’s asked by his superiors to check in on a secluded family living far outside town on a forgotten back road. And that’s when Hirsch knows that something terrible is lurking within his small town.
Peace is rural noir at its finest. Disher paints a vivid picture of small-town life. You can feel the stifling heat of the sun, and the stifling glares of your neighbours. There is the always present undercurrent of gossip and tension; the questions of who did these crimes, why they did them, and if Hirsch is doing a good enough job trying to solve the case. You can feel the sidelong glances being thrown as you read Disher’s fantastic descriptions. You will firmly believe you’re living in the small-town country life with the characters, and that those glances are aimed at you.
Disher writes some of the best crime in the country. His writing is taut, keeping you involved in the story, not wanting to put the book down until you’ve finished it and found out who was responsible. It’s no surprise that Disher has been shortlisted for, and won, many awards with his previous works. Peace is the first of his that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. A truly compelling read that will pull you in and only let you go once you’ve finished. And even then you’ll be thinking about it for days afterwards!
About the author
Garry Disher has published almost fifty titles—fiction, children’s books, anthologies, textbooks, the Wyatt thrillers and the Mornington Peninsula mysteries. He has won numerous awards, including the German Crime Prize (twice) and two Ned Kelly Best Crime novel awards, for Chain of Evidence (2007) and Wyatt (2010). Garry lives on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.