SNAPSHOT
Garry Disher

 


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The Text Publishing Company, Sep 2005
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

When Janine McQuarrie, a psychologist and the daughter-in-law of Superintendent McQuarrie of the Mornington Peninsula police, is found shot to death, the only witness is her seven year old daughter. Detective Inspector Hal Challis is assigned the case which he doesnít particularly want.

For a start, Superintendent McQuarrie is a pompous man, a pen pusher, not a police officer, who keeps interfering and trying to direct the investigation. Whether itís because he just wants to help, just being protective of his family, Hal isnít sure. Things become even murkier upon the discovery of Janineís damaged mobile phone which contains pornographic photos of people having group sex. She and her husband have been attending sex parties where Janine has taken photos and sent them to some of the participants which widens the list of suspects.

Hal is also getting conflicting impressions about the victim. Her family insist sheís a caring, loving woman, doing good work counselling the troubled at a local clinic. Her colleagues and some of her patients say sheís self-serving and arrogant and takes pleasure in confronting those she sees as the source of the problems of her clients.

Halís former lover, Tessa Kane, editor of the local newspaper has recently caused considerable controversy by writing a feature article about these sex parties. Now she is working on a story about the nearby detention centre for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. There have been many complaints about the treatment of the inmates. The manager is a rather unpleasant South African who is refusing to talk to the media which only makes Tessa more determined.

When Tessa is also found dead, Hal has to try and work out whether her murder is connected to the sex parties or the detention centre or perhaps something else going on in her life.

SNAPSHOT is set on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Itís an area that has a string of small to medium sized beach towns and the economy relies very heavily on tourism. This particular book is set in winter and its portrayal of a summer holiday town in winter hibernation is particularly vivid. As in most small communities, there is much intertwining of relationships both personal and professional, all of which impact on one another. This enables the author to create multi-layered stories with complex characters. In many police procedurals, the author will try to give the reader a glimpse of the private lives of the characters as well as their work, often at the expense of the pace of the plot, but Garry Disher manages to do it beautifully.

Disher has published a number of stand alone novels and several non-fiction works. SNAPSHOT is the third in the Hall Challis series and for those who enjoy police procedurals the series is one which you should put on your list of must read books.

Original version published on Murder and Mayhem


 

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