Opal Country by Chris Hammer

This book starts with the murder and crucifixion of an opal miner and leads us up and down in the seering heat of the outback. 40 degrees means that everyone drives everywhere even if it is only 10m down the road, everyone carries water in their car, has air conditioning and has insect repellent for when you get out of the car. Thank goodness we only had one day of it! The landscape is definitely a big character in this book.

This is a long read but a page-turner leading to revenge for a number of people including the mining company bosses, the children of the miners and local people. But it is also a story of honesty and ethics as police including what happens to you if you start to get to close to the top with your investigations. I have to admit to not really understanding one of the strands in the book about the lead detective’s, mentor being kicked out of the force and the relevance it had on the case he was looking into.

This was one of the few detective stories where one policeman turns round and apologises to a female police officer and says that he was misled about her. I kept waiting for the twist and trying to work out how he would betray her but it didn’t happen. There was also a young PC who did a good job, Garry, and again you don’t often get that. Usually, it is about the errors they make so Hammer is a sympathetic author towards the police in this book.

There seem to be more detective novels set in Australia over the last few years including Jane Harper and Michael Robotham and long may that continue as they are good.

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