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Hell to Pay

by Garry Disher

Reviewed by Pete Ison on November 5, 2014

Garry Disher is a great Aussie writer who I have read previously. He usually writes police procedurals or mysteries and sets them in a fair dinkum Aussie setting, for instance his Inspector Hal Challis novels are all about a cop working on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. His latest novel is titled Hell to Pay (called “Bitter Wash Road” in America) and features Constable Paul Hirschhausen
“Hirsch” as he likes to be known. Now Hirsch is a former Adelaide detective who has rolled over on some dirty colleagues in the force, and because of this (going against the forces “protect your own” culture) he has been demoted to the rank of Constable and now looks after a small isolated police station in a fictional mid-north town called Tiverton.
Hirsch gets a call about a body being found on the side of the road. He attends
the scene and discovers that it is a young 16 year old local girl who has a
reputation as a frequent hitchhiker – it looks like a hit and run. As Hirsch
delves deeper into the life of the girl he comes across more and more things that don’t add up. What was she doing in the hours before her death?, why has her best friend disappeared? Why won’t her brother talk to him?
In the meantime Hirsch is having to contend with bullying from his workmates
based in nearby Trentworth (definitely Burra) because he shopped a fellow
copper, and he is getting threatening phone calls and bullets left in his
letterbox. All very unsettling!
No Hirsch is not the sort of guy to sit back and let things happen around him.
He gets investigating!
A great story that I read in virtually one sitting because I couldn’t put it down
– it was that good! My wife’s family comes from the Clare area and it was
fantastic to be able to relate to most of the towns in that area, like Spalding,
Clare, The Barossa etc. Very atmospheric thriller, some great characters.
Highly recommended!

Pete Ison‘s rating: 9 out of 10

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