Bad Debts

Peter Temple, Author . MacAdam/Cage $13 (318p) ISBN 978-1-59692-129-0

Australian Jack Irish—ex-lawyer and sometime debt collector, cabinetmaker and barfly—gets a double introduction as MacAdam/Cage releases his first two adventures (number two is Black Tide ) this month. Jack's a gumshoe in classic hard-boiled style: there's his clipped, black-humor dialogue, his hard-drinking past and his sad backstory (his wife was murdered by one of his clients). When Jack gets a desperate message from Danny McKillop, whom he defended years before on a hit-and-run charge "at the beginning of the forgotten zone, the year or so I spent drunk," he takes a while to call him back. When he does, Danny, who was fresh out of prison, is dead. Jack's guilt fuels his ensuing search for the truth about Danny's murder. The main plot, which has to do with a crooked land development deal, is overly complicated, but solid subplots—one concerning a romance, another about a horseracing scheme—keep the pages flipping. The engaging Jack and his friends are absolutely original and unfailingly amusing, and figuring out their speech patterns is great fun, even in its difficulty ("We'll have to get on the Drizas, motor out to the bush next week. Suit, Jack?"). Readers will take to this series like a thirsty man to strong drink and bang the bar for another round. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-385-66303-8
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