Garry Disher returns to the small northern South Australian town of Tiverton for his fourth outing with Paul Hirschhausen in Day’s End, a book very much informed by the recent events. As with all of the other books in this series, Disher (and Hirsch) juggles big issues with the mundane.
When the book opens, Hirsch is helping a Belgian woman Jaane Van Sant who is looking for her missing son Willi, last seen working on a property in Hirsch’s district. Before long he is also dealing with a dead body in a suitcase, cyberbullying, anti-Covid feeling, a family of petty criminals and fraud. Soon there are also issues of racism, harassment and a white supremist organisation.
Once again, Disher plays to his strengths. Central to this is the character of Paul Hirschhausen, a better than average policeman consigned to a small county station and making the best of it. He is not unaffected by events – both personally, when his partner and her daughter are targeted, and professionally, when he has to deal with tragedy. Hirsch’s travails are set within a plot that takes its pointers from recent events that are no means place specific – Covid, the rise of cyberbullying in schools and recruitment of disaffected young people by racist, nationalist groups. And around it all a great feel for the landscape and the people who inhabit it.
Tiverton is not Midsomer where murders just happen all the time. It is a town and an area that is buffeted by the same pressures and events that are impacting on everyone in Australia. By setting his action in a small community Disher is able to explore a number of disparate threads without anything feeling contrived or forced. Taking all together these elements together, Day’s End is another great rural crime novel.
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