Stiff – Shane Maloney

«Huh», I thought, upon finding this on the OBCZ-shelf, «I’ve never read an Australian crime novel before. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever read an Australian novel before.» I think I might be wrong on that second count, though. Nevil Shute, possibly? Anyhow, I brought the book home and it happened to be handily available shortly after when I’d finished Perdita.

Stiff is entertaining enough and the basic plot is sound, and fairly original. However, there’s not much local colour to be getting on with, to my mind the story might as well have been set in Britain or the States. Also, and worse, the subplots and characterisations are pretty much what you’d get if there was such a thing as an «off the peg crime story character shop». Especially the near-divorce, down-at-heel characteristics of the hero made me feel that I’ve read it all before, which is a pity.

So I won’t go out of my way to find another Murray Whelan mystery. But I won’t run in the opposite direction if I see one, either, so it’s not all bad.

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