In this engrossing Australian police procedural, cops battle hard to enforce the law—at least, the good ones do.
It’s a motley group charged with keeping the peace in Victoria, a smallish town southeast of Melbourne. They’re smart, dumb, scrupulously honest, irretrievably bent, cops born to be cops and cops hopelessly miscast. Detective Sergeant Ellen Destry is among the best, but as she faces up to new responsibilities, she admits she’s got the willies. Detective Inspector Hal Challis, her boss, is away on compassionate leave tending to his dying father, and Ellen’s in charge. Though she mostly knows she’s absolutely up to the task, a devil’s advocate keeps gnawing at her confidence. It’s this part of her that officious, would-be martinet Superintendent McQuarrie, who hates women almost as much as fears them, enjoys exploiting. When ten-year-old Katie Blasko goes missing, it restores perspective, and Ellen goes into full cop mode. Has Katie merely wandered off? Has she been kidnapped? Is a pedophile ring active in Victoria, as has long been rumored? If so, have senior police officers been enablers, or indeed have they actively participated? The case widens and goes off in unpredictable directions. As Ellen struggles to crack it, she remembers Hal Challis’s iron dictum: Trust no one.
Disher (Snapshot, 2006, etc.) creates the kind of complex, edgy, principled yet flawed characters it’s a pleasure to worry about.