Thursday, December 23, 2010
Peter Temple, Dead Point
I recently heard the audio version of Peter Temple's Dead Point, which I believe is the latest of the Jack Irish novels (correct me if I'm wrong, please). The Irish novels normally have three plots, coinciding with Jack's three careers (as a lawyer, a fixer for a circle of horse-racing enthusiasts, and an apprentice woodworker). The pattern holds here, with Jack involved in the aftermath of a failed betting scheme (and a couple of thefts from people after succesful betting schemes), in a missing-person case involving a bartender, and in the installation of a high-end library in a wealthy woman's house. Parts of the cases become related, but it's primarily Jack himself who ties the book together.
Jack is, in fact, good company. And his first-person narrative works very well in an audio version. The plot moves inexorably forward, but the primary interest is, as usual, the characters, not just Jack but important and even secondary characters throughout the book.
The denouement is complicated, as usual, and so is Jack's love life, as usual. The violence at the conclusion of the missing-person plot is perhaps less extreme than in the previous books, but is a very complicated incident, mechanically. I won't explain more, but Temple renders an almost Rube Goldberg series of events in a believable way.
The Irish novels are perhaps more pure entertainment than Temple's other recent books, but no less interesting for all that. I need to go back and read some of Temple's early books, most of which I missed—any recommendations?