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Friday, August 21, 2015

A Different Turf by Jon Cleary

This is the 13th or 14th Scobie Malone novel, depending on what list you happen to see.  Scobie is an Australian detective Inspector and in this novel he’s forced to confront Issues of homosexuality, racism, sexism, and vigilantism.  A man, claiming to represent a group of people, has contacted Scobie, taking responsibility for  a series of vigilante-style killings of gay bashers.  The investigation proves difficult as it forces issues within his own squad to the surface when he discovers the bi-sexuality of one of his detectives. The conflict feels a bit dated today, but Cleary handles them sensitively.

While I love the accent of the narrator and his multiple voices, I sometimes found the dialog a bit difficult to follow. Never mind, the intriguing relationship Scobie has with his wife Lisa and growing children (reminiscent of Commisario Brunetti’s family in Donna Leon’s series) makes the novels worth reading/listening to. Especially when you run across phrases like, “explaining the unbelievable to the incredulous,” and “navigating the shoals of a woman’s mind.”

Regretfully, Cleary died in 2010 and his books are not readily available, but are becoming more widely available especially in digital and audio formats. They are worth the effort to find them.

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