The first book I read by Adrian Hyland was his personal account of the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in January 2009. Kinglakd 350 was a moving and dramatic story not only of that days events, but of what had led up to it, and the aftermath of the catastrophe. More recently I have read Gunshot Road, which is a novel set in central Australia featuring a young woman Emily Tempest and her role with the police as an Aboriginal Community Police Officer. This role has its ups and downs, and often creates suspicion amongst both the white and black communities.
Emily is a terrific character, caring, smart and with a don’t mess with me attitude that gets her into and out of some tricky situations. She is variously helped and hindered by her white colleagues and her Aborignal friends and family as she attempts to solve the crime of murder, although the police think they have it sown up way before Emily does. Her perserverance puts her in danger and her unlikely partner in solving it is a wandering Chinese artist who has an unusual take on life.
There are no dazzling heroes in the book, but some fairly questionable attitudes and not just amongst the white police officers. Aspects of the local cultures add texture to the story, and are dealt with sensitively. I think Adrian Hyland is a writer who cares a lot, about his characters and their lives. He seems to have been diligent in his research, and it helps with understanding the motivations of some people.
A crime story that comes from a different angle than most, Gunshot Road is well worth a look. Emily Tempest was introduced in an earlier book, Diamond Dove, but I hadn’t read that, and don’t feel you have to read it first. $32.95