When a brothel madam is shot on a Perth golf course in 1975 it should be a routine murder enquiry. But it isn't. In fact there's barely an investigation at all, and Superintendent Swann thinks he knows why. Heroin is the new drug in town and the money is finding its way into some very respectable hands. It's the brave or the foolish who accuse their fellow cops of corruption, and sometimes not even Swann is sure which he is. Especially when those he's pointing the finger at have mates in every stronghold of power in the state big business, organised crime, the government. He might have won the first round by forcing a royal commission, but the judge is an ailing patsy and the outcome seems predetermined. If that's not enough to contend with, Swann's teenage daughter has disappeared, he doesn't know whether she's alive or not, and the word on the street is he's a dead man walking. Line of Sight is classic crime noir, a tale of dark corruption set in a city of sun and heat.
My first taste of author David Whish-Wilson but not my last. Line of Sight takes us to mid-70s Perth – a city under the control of corrupt politicians and a bent police force. Drugs, prostitution and tax fiddles are the means of enrichment and if the odd brothel madam gets murdered in the meantime, to preserve the status quo, it’s one of the costs of doing business.
Frank Swann, a discredited cop with a missing teenage daughter tries to bring the whole charade down. Unfortunately he’s a man with few friends to watch his back. A Royal Commission may be the opportunity to blow the whistle, but with limited terms of reference, disappearing evidence, witnesses frightened into perjuring themselves or retracting earlier statements, the smart money is on failure.
We feel Swann’s isolation as he desperately tries to join the dots up concerning Ruby Devine’s murder. He’s an interesting protagonist; his heart in the right place though he feels guilt at having disappointed and failed his family. Flawed would be a fair assessment – he’s not above dispensing a beating to coerce information from a witness and he’s similarly stoic when on the receiving end.
Great setting, fantastic characters, pace, tension, paranoia, violence and a quest for justice. What I also liked was Whish-Wilson’s trust in his readership to join up the dots with an understated style of narration. Not everything is telegraphed.
Apparently the story is based around a true case. If so, it’s all the more scary because of it.
5 from 5
David Whish-Wilson has a couple of other books that sit on the stacks – Down in the Zero - a second Frank Swann book and The Summons – a tale set in Berlin in the 30’s. I’m reliably informed there is a third Swann book due in 2016 – happy days!
The author was kind enough to send me a copy for review. I’m just sorry it took me so long to get to it….2 years, ouch!