Garry Disher returns from spending time with criminal Wyatt on the Gold Coast and out on Bitterwash Road to the Peninsula region east of Melbourne for his latest book. Up to its seventh volume, the previously titled Challis and Destry series have now been renamed “Peninsula Crimes”. While Both Hal Challis and Ellen Destry are both still very much main characters in this outing, Disher’s focus in this series of procedurals has always been much broader than the leads, ranging across a number of members of the Peninsula police force and the local community.
In Signal Loss, Disher tackles a major current issue – ice production and addiction, particularly in rural Australia. As with other books in this series there are plenty of other crimes to go round – sexual assault, theft, murder. But the to make sense of the various aspects of those crimes as they emerge and in particular as they become confused with in other investigations.
Once again both the procedural and social/character elements of Disher’s writing are strong. Destry has her challenges managing a new sex crimes unit and dealing with her sister’s new crises. While Challis finds himself butting up against the drugs squad and its charismatic head. Their personal lives, and the lives of some of their colleagues, in particular detective Pam Murphy, but even some of the criminals, wind in and out of the various central plot lines which hum as Disher carefully pull them together to a tense conclusion.
Disher and the Peninsula Crime novels have featured strongly in the Ned Kelly awards over their twenty year history (Book four in the series – Chain of Evidence – took out the award in 2007). Signal Loss is another strong entry in this series which brings both its characters and its concerns bang up to date.