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I found this piece of crime fiction at a local Car Boot sale a few months ago. I had never heard of this author before and at just 30p I didn't see the harm in trying it, as I had lost little if I did not enjoy it. I like tense kidnappings and the cover told you 'fifteen, beautiful, wayward, abducted and this sounded just the ticket for me.
==About the author:==
Peter Temple was born in Australia in 1946 and is his homelands most famous and acclaimed crime writer. Having won the CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger and five-time winner of the Ned Kelly Award for his work. This I find amazing when you consider he has only written nine novels!!
==Synopsis of the book:==
Frank Calder a former Soldier and Police Officer and now mediator, is called by Pat Calder when his Granddaughter disappears. This family are very wealthy and the missing 15-year-old Anne is known to be more than a handful. She had been dropped off at the music store and failed to return to her driver's car half an hour later. Now the family are very anxious and unwilling to get involved with the Police.
That was because seven years before another member of the family was abducted and the Police bungle nearly costed the girl her life. Frank agrees to act as a courier for the family as a ransom demand for $200,000 is quickly received. And they are determined this must be paid as the priority is to get the girl back at all costs. Frank is quite happy to go along with this as he will get well paid himself but it doesn't stop him asking questions about this very unusual family and all their deep and dark secrets that will soon emerge.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
My overall opinion of this crime thriller was it was an average piece of fiction. However, this does not overly surprise me as I often take a book or two to get into a new author and appreciate his or her writing style. Even one of my favourite authors Donna Leon I initially struggled with, I suppose it is all about understanding the cultural differences, Leon writing about Italy and Temple Australia.
I think the main reason I only considered this to be an average thriller was because at times the story I felt was quite slow and we where waiting for something to happen. I suppose in hostage situations this is often the case but it still seemed dull. The story lacked the fabulous and interesting characters I expected and I kept finding I was forgetting who was who in the Carson family and who had done what. This signifies to me that the characters were not memorable enough or we needed reminding in the piece about them.
This is in stark contrast to me impression when I first picked up the book. I thought I might have picked up a gem that was because of two quotes by two authors I really respect i.e. Mark Billingham and Val McDermid singing the praises of this writer. However from what they have said it is now clear to me they were talking about his work in general rather than specifically this book. Added to the fact when I investigated this author I was impressed at the awards he had won.
I liked the initial concept of a very wealthy schoolgirl being snatched and I guessed there would be more this is abduction than originally met the eye. Added to this was the interesting and good length summary on the inside cover that really wetted my appetite by talking about this mysterious family and clearly a former Detective with a past. It sounded to me like all the elements where there for a classic exciting mystery.
However this was about as good as it got for me because as soon as I started reading the story I felt it was really missing the sparkle and excellence that I had been expecting. The writing was good but I found little in the characters or the situation to grab me. I even know the part of Australia the author was talking about quite well but still I found his words hollow and uninspiring. The thing I did like was learning more about the 'Wild Child' that had been taken and I wondered if somehow she was involved in the crime herself.
As the story developed the emphasis of Frank Calder's investigation changed and he started to look more at the family and some of their skeletons came pounding out of the cupboards. I enjoyed this as suspicion and doubt was levied on them all in turn. I think the author did create some good characters but he failed to convince me they were suspects and I found the suspects that really should have been created sadly lacking, it was as if he was going through the motions.
What I was finding was the story was drifting and my concentration in it was faltering. There were too many scenes that where slow going and little happened, because when things did it was totally different ball game and my enthusiasm increased. I kept thinking at any moment I will be engrossed in this and I will understand what people see in this writer but it never really happened. Even in the last few chapters I was unconvinced by what happened and kept feeling I had missed something.
For me a lot of my interest in a novel centres on what I think of the lead character. And I found Frank Calder to be a very average star. For me there was nothing about him that made him different or special as a character. I found I had little in common with him and I never really understood his personality at all. I felt having read the book I did not understand him anymore than when I had started it. The best thing I can say about him is he seemed to always know what he was doing, I felt he was a throwback to bygone days and all the ladies just seem to want to have sex with him.
In contrast I thought a few of the support characters were well written for and had interesting personalities, but I did not feel this was examined in enough detail. Some of them I wanted to know more about but the story to quickly move on to another member of the family. For me it was emotion that was missing throughout the story and I did not come across in the authors words how upset and worried the family really where about the abduction.
This was a classic mystery and I did enjoy some of the unexpected and cleverly thought out twists and turns the author employed. In truth I had no idea of the answers to it until the very end and even then there were a sting in the tail, which proved at least this is a clever writer able to put together a complex plot. It was certainly different and some of the authors ideas where first class, I just did not feel he explained and presented them as well as he could have done.
I would have liked the story to be a little longer in truth as I felt the ending was a little rushed and I would have liked more explanation with it. At the moment I am really not sure if I want to read another book by Peter Temple, for me this one was weak and I cannot believe this is a fair reflection of his work. I think I will need to try another one just to see how it compares to this.
Having reflected on this book for several days now I am not going to recommend it as a crime thriller that is worth reading. I found it hard work a lot of the time and it was never a book I enjoyed or took to. The concept behind it was great and some of the ideas incorporated in the story where very clever but it never inspired me. I think this was because I failed to gel with the novel's leading character and could not relate to the way he thought and how he went about his business.
Price: £5.05 New Paperback at Amazon
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Year of Publication: 1999
About the author: www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/t/peter-temple
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
Thanks for reading my review.
©CPT DANIELS August 2011