Page count: 406 pages
Truth is the latest novel by the acclaimed Australian crime writer Peter Temple. It follows Inspector Stephen Villani, head of the Victoria homicide squad, a minor character introduced in The broken shore through a spate of murders in the gruelling heat of the Australian summer. A prostitute is found in a brand new luxury condominium with her neck broken; yet rather than cooperate with the investigations, the building’s owners use their connections with the high and mighty to close the case early lest the sale of the new appartments be affected. Elsewhere in Victoria, the bodies of three drug dealers are found mutilated in an apparent gang-related attack turned ugly. Again Villani finds himself under pressure to close the case to preserve the image of a secure city ahead of the autumn’s elections.
Villani himself is the sheer definition of an anti-hero: his marriage is a shambles following his multiple indiscretions; his youngest daughter is drugging herself, living on the street and accusing Villani of incest; and his domineering father leaves Villani feeling a continuously inadequate and weak son. Consequently, work is the only arena left for Villani to excel in; yet, here too, he is portrayed as deeply flawed as Villani some years back helped a colleague disguise the shooting of an unarmed suspect as an act of self-defence.
Truth is a great book: fast paced, compulsively readable, written with a lot of style and flair, I breezed through it in less than a day, which is unusually fast for me. Having read The broken shore a few months ago, I really enjoyed how Temple expanded the universe of characters of that book in this latest volume, adding even more nuances and enhancing the reader’s insight into the background of the cast of both books. Combined with Temple’s superb language and dark storyline, the result is a novel of far higher literary quality than is common for crime writers. Well worth the read!