Truth by Peter Temple


This 2010 Miles Franklin award winning book is a "semi-sequel" to The Broken Shore which I read in 2012. Truth was satisfying in the end, but I found there were many references that I wasn't getting, an experience I don't remember having with The Broken Shore. 

The main character, Steven Villani, head of homicide in Melbourne, has many demands on his time and attention: his father and the beloved farm and forest are threatened by fire, his 15-year-old daughter has run away and is on the street with druggies, the mother of a slain police officer needs his help, his marriage is ending, a very attractive and intelligent woman is interested in him, he is being wined and dined to tempt him away from police work, and then there are a few murders to solve. 

Villani doesn't think of himself as a good guy, but of course we want him to be. His father required him to care for his younger brothers, but lavished his love on them, not Steve. He is faithless in his marriage, and occasionally acknowledges that his wife is incapable of lying. He's an inattentive father, sometimes at a truly key moment. He's headstrong at his work, sometimes with good results, sometimes not. Joe Cashin, the main character of The Broken Shore, counts him as one of the good guys. 

One of the references the mystified me for a time was SOG, as in "we should have called in the SOGs, rather than trying to arrest them ourselves," so obviously a SWAT team operation. At some point it becomes clear they were also known as Sons of God. I mentioned this to friends, and one friend said SOG is a British term for Special Operations Group. When I checked Wikipedia, the first entry mentioned specifically the Victorian police in Australia and included the nickname Son of God.

The book is a semi-sequel because it refers to events with Joe Cashin at an earlier time. I don't remember any of the other characters being in both books, but I could be wrong. The pace of the two books seems different in my memory: Truth seems to have an almost frantic pace, especially as the end grows closer. The crimes of The Broken Shore were so venal as to make the book difficult to read, but otherwise I found it to be a more satisfying book than Truth.

Peter Temple, Truth, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010, 417 pages (I listened to the audiobook). Available through Amazon.

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