All Things Peter Temple

For unknown reasons I had been saving up reading the final book in the Jack Irish Quartet, WHITE DOG. But Aussie Author Month (and a couple of dud books) seemed a great reason to read the final Peter Temple book in my to read pile.

I first discovered Peter Temple with THE BROKEN SHORE and was blown away. I have to admit to a bit of cultural cringe when it comes to Australian writing in the crime genre but Peter Temple has completely and utterly broken this down. I discovered THE BROKEN SHORE via my favourite UK crime writer, John Harvey. I was lucky enough to have lunch with Harvey a few year ago and we got to talking about our favourite crime reads of that year. We both agreed that Don Winslow’s THE POWER OF THE DOG was far and away one of the best crime novels we had read but John Harvey said that THE BROKEN SHORE was equally as brilliant. The fact  an Australian novel was receiving this kind of praise and I hadn’t read it (or even had it on my radar) greatly shamed me and I was determined to rectify the situation.

I do consider myself a crime reader although I am not exclusive to that genre. I also have quite specific tastes when it comes to the genre. I loathe formula and try to avoid the traditional murder mystery. This is probably why I rarely read British crime (John Harvey being the exception) and lean toward American noir usually with a social bent.(although I do have an affinity for some gritty Irish crime too). George Pelecanos is my benchmark and I love anything and everything by Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Richard Price and Don Winslow. Before discovering THE BROKEN SHORE I didn’t think Australian Crime Fiction had anything to offer me, but I was wrong. Very wrong.

After reading THE BROKEN SHORE I knew I then had to read everything else by Peter Temple. My next book was IN THE EVIL DAY, an international political thriller equal of any bestseller on the market. I followed this with SHOOTING STAR, a brilliant kidnap thriller that digs into the never talked about class system in Australia. AN IRON ROSE is another great thriller that showed Peter Temple’s wasn’t just limited to urban Australia but could take the knife to the underbelly of rural Australia too.

Temple’s understanding of the relationship between urban Australia and rural Australia was taken to a new level with THE BROKEN SHORE and TRUTH. The two novels are not a sequence put more of a pair. Together they show the dichotomy of Australia. Both novels are as powerful and profound as each other. TRUTH highly deserved to win Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, The Miles Franklin. It defied its genre and its conventions and the way Temple played with language, particularly the voices of each character was truly amazing. But THE BROKEN SHORE also did this and would have also been a worth Mile Franklin winner. Maybe we weren’t ready for a crime novel to win but THE BROKEN SHORE deserves all the same accolades as TRUTH.

The Jack Irish series is also impressive. THE BROKEN SHORE and TRUTH stand apart because they defied their genre and broke downs its conventions. The Jack Irish series is brilliant because it is the top of its field within its genre and its conventions. It is classic noir in the US sense but it is also completely and utterly uniquely Australian. It is the complete package capturing the damp, cold Melbourne atmosphere with the sly and witty Australian vernacular. And if that isn’t enough the description of food and wine (even Vegemite on toast) will leave you salivating. Jack Irish is the ultimate Australian crime hero and I can’t wait to see what they do with a rumoured television series. In fact all of Peter Temple’s books are crying out to be filmed (TRUTH is apparently in the works).He creates such richly detailed atmosphere combined with incredibly nuances language while keeping an essence of Australia that is unique as well as instantly recognizable.

It is little wonder Peter Temple has stood down from the Ned Kelly Awards (Australia’s Crime writing awards) as it is completely unfair to all other Australian crime writers when he is eligible for one. Peter Temple is a genius and a national treasure and he should be on stamps!.

54 thoughts on “All Things Peter Temple

  1. I agree. Is there a petition we can make to Australia Post? I still haven’t forgiven them for putting my least favourite Australian author of all time (Mr Carey) on one but they could make it up by having a Peter Temple stamp 🙂

  2. A Peter Temple stamp is a great idea. I have only read An Iron Rose and The Broken Shore, and other than finding them very similar (and I know most people would disagree with me) I really loved them. Before reading Temple I wasn’t a big fan of crime fiction in general , as a serious genre anyway, but now I make a point of exploring this genre. Truth is next on my Temple reading list and I am very much looking forward to it.

  3. I love Peter Temple’s writing so much that I read and reread his Jack Irish Series, and I loved The Broken Shore and Truth. I love his tired, world-weary Australian male characters and their relationships with other men, and I love his depictions of Victoria. Now that I know about his 1997, 1999 and 2002 books I’ll be buying them ASAP. It’s not just the crime noir, it’s his writing style. He could write about hairdressing for all I care, his writing is that good.

    1. They are about to start filming the Jack Irish series with Guy Pearce in the lead role. Not sure if he is my vision of Jack but it will be interesting none the less

    2. I agree Jess I read his books over and over again too . He could make a yarn about watching paint dry or the grass grow, riveting .

  4. Agree with everything you have said. Peter Temple is an outrageously fine writer who could probably make a wonderful opus, based on the Melbourne telephone book.

    Speaking of which-Peter, when is the next one coming out? Also I would like to read a new Jack Irish-traditional genre-and a new non traditional genre. Come to think of it Peter; how about two new books? (joke)

    1. No idea when the next Peter Temple is due out. Fingers crossed for next year. The ABC is turning the Jack Irish novels into a TV series as well with Guy Pearce to play Jack Irish

    2. Just found out that Text will publish a new Peter Temple novel in the second half of 2012. It will be a follow on to TRUTH and THE BROKEN SHORE and centre on Dove.

  5. Excellent post, Agree about Peter Carey. Just wonder why Gary Disher isn’t on the good crime writer list. Also agree that Guy Pearce doesn’t conform to my vision of Jack Irish. A bit like the BBC TV series about The gangly violently red haired Scottish policeman in C Beaton’s series- they turned him into a a dull dark haired unmemorable bloke.

  6. Didnt like Animal Kingdom and dont see Guy Pearce as Jack. Have read all the books and am half way through TRUTH. Have had it for a while but have not wanted to read it as knew there was nothing to follow. Thank you for the info re the next book. Now I can finish TRUTH with something to look forward to.

  7. Add me to the Peter Temple fanclub. Then visit my crime writing site, which I created in order to publish my reviews of his books. I’ve done six of the nine, three more to go. Why am I doing this? Just for love of the man’s work. Stop by, look around, leave a comment. There are no plot spoilers, as I don’t do plot summaries.

    Wayne Pounds

    1. I have just finished by Tribute to Peter Temple site by completing my last review of the nine novels. See the most recent–called “Attack Dogs, Two-legged and Four:

      By the time you get there, I may have changed the name of it from Red Harvest (a tribute to Dashiell Hammett) to White Dog.


  8. Crime novels my favourite genre, Peter Temple my favourite author. (We have occasional correspondence.) Cannot see Guy Pearce as Jack, so of two minds as to whether to watch series. Have been waiting for third book following on from THE BROKEN SHORE and TRUTH. Dove didn’t strike me as ‘leading man’ material, so interesting to see how his character is developed. I find AN IRON ROSE is the one I read most often. Peter fleshes out all his
    characters so well, especially his ‘main men’, but I have particular soft spots for Mac Faraday and Jack Irish.

    1. Guy Pearce will be interesting. The trailer looks good but I still harbour a few doubts.

      Can’t wait for the new one but still haven’t seen it locked into the publishing schedule. Fingers crossed

      Apparently Broken Shore is being filmed too.

      His publisher has just reissued An Iron Rose with a fantastic introduction by Les Carlyon which compares Temple to Tolstoy and Henry Lawson!

  9. Peter Temple is my favourite author. I broke in with “The Broken Shore” and am now reading his back catalogue one book at a time but I am afraid that I have nearly finished them all. Can’t wait for the Jack Irish series – the director is a friend of mine; no bias – and can’t wait for a new Temple novel.

  10. Love Temple, am reading all for the 2nd time. My problem is I can’t find “white dog” anywhere to buy, all sites keep saying it’s not available. Anyone having a spare I can buy please let me know.

  11. Really good reads, these books. Not too sure about Aussie drinking habits as described, King Browns? Sounds like a girlie tipple to me, described as brown lager? Yuk

  12. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll have to wait until 2013 for a new Peter Temple. There’s still a slight chance the book will be ready before the end of the year but more likely next year now. Disappointing but am happy to wait for anything Peter Temple writes

    1. What a great Christmas present that’d make Jon. Here’s hoping…I vaguely remember an interview I read where he (PT) talked about a possible Jack Irish novel centred around the Melbourne Cup. How good would that be? Like others on here, I’m both looking forward to the TV shows, but unsure about Guy Pearce as Jack. In my imagination, Jack is blonde for some inexplicable reason…

      1. The next Peter Temple will be the third in the loose series following The Broken Shore and Truth. I’ve seen the first telemovie, Bad Debts, and rest assured Guy Pearce IS Jack Irish

    1. I have been checking out the Text website, looking for any mention of a new book. Told Peter that at 70+ can’t afford to wait too long. I’ve never thought of Jack as ‘blonde’. He’s told he is the the image of his father, and his father’s looks are described from a photo as being dark and intense. One of the reasons I am not keen on Guy Pearce is that in the ABC promos and in the photos on the covers of latest editions he looks decidedly scruffy. Nowhere in the books do I get that impression of Jack (with the exception of the period before we actually make his acquaintance, when he was unstrung after he lost his wife). Who would be good casting as Joe Cashin? Will have to think on it!

  13. 82 year old secular Jewish lady living in Hackney, London, UK. Have a sister living in Blue Mountains, Oz. I am absolutely overwhelmed by all books Peter Temple. When will the new one be out, I must have it? Jack Irish is my ‘hero’. One of the best in the genre. Slightly disappointed by tv Bad Debts and Black Tide as Director has only picked up on one strand in the life of this lovely complicated man. Not sure about Guy Pearce either, but otherwise thought the Casting was right on. Seeing the Youth Club in the flesh so to speak brought a lump to my throat. MORE, MORE, MORE.
    Myrna Shaw

  14. I totally agree with Myrna Shaw, about casting Guy Pearce as Jack Irish. If they had asked me, I would have brought Mick. Dundee out of retirement. He would have been perfect in the part. Cheers Dingle

  15. Just been watching Black Tide DVD. Seems to wander away from the book quite a lot. Shame really, as the DVD just does’nt make sense. Still I suppose that is what is called “Artistic License” Me, I am going to stick to the books in future. What Ho, Dingle

  16. You’re kidding me ( to those who object to Guy Pearce as Jack). inspired choice in my book. Time will tell, but I’m definitely on board.

      1. Nothing from Peter Temple in 2013? A small bubble of hope arose in me when I saw the question. I am approaching 83 years of age in December 2013 and I am getting a bit nervous. What about 2014 please?

        Myrna Shaw

      1. I read an awful lot, but I only get irritated at the wait for a new Peter Temple, or Paul Auster. Myrna Shaw

      2. You and me both, Myrna. I read all of his books (9 I think) in a short space of time and now I’m anxiously waiting for the next one…Jon’s recommendations about other books have been great too.

      3. Like Myrna, hoping next book arrives before I drop off the branch. Was not at all impressed by Guy Pearce (needed more physical presence – Jack 6ft 2in and solidly built – and as for that perpetual five-o’clock shadow). Don Hany was a better fit physically for Joe Cashin, but required a bit more spark. Thought ‘Broken Shore’ would have been better done in two parts, less disjointed. Have read David Whish-Wilson’s ‘Line of Sight’ and ‘Zero to the Bone’ set in Perth in the 1970s, quite a good read, if too much product placement.

  17. I’m another massive UK Peter Temple fan. I just chain re-read the books until the next one comes out. Usually go back to one after any substandard crime novel. I think he is a leading novelist and the fact that it’s crime is immaterial. Have you guys read any Cormac McCarthy? No country for old men is great if you like PT you should eat it up (much better than the film which I liked but it beefs up the violence and misses the gist of the book which is psychological – like Broken Shore). I enjoyed the TV Bad Debts, I like Guy Pearce as Jack, good acting etc.. but I’d rather read the books. Just off to listen to Aus maul England at cricket again – sigh.

    1. Sorry to hear you’re following the cricket, Alan, that is, the wrong cricket team…yes I’ve read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (and seen the movie). Highly recommend the book. Haven’t read NCFOM but enjoyed the movie. Really looking forward to the next Temple book. Have recently started on Jo Nesbo’s crime series and they’re good, but Temple is, as you say, a class writer across all genre. Cheers.

  18. Great to hear all the posts by all you passionate Peter Temple fans out there. I was worried about Guy Pearce too, but thought he nailed Jack in both movies. Apparently they are going to shoot the remaining 2 Jack Irish novels too.
    Can’t wait for the next book, particularly if it picks up from the threads of Broken Shore and Truth

  19. Okay – so I’ve read all of Peter Temple’s books at least twice and I’m half-way through reading them a third time. It’s now September 2014 and the year’s starting to look a bit hairy as we push on towards 2015.
    And still no new Peter Temple novel…
    All I can say is it’s a great novelist who is able to build an overwhelming sense of suspense just by not publishing a book.
    Is there a Peter Temple rehab facility somewhere so we can get some medications or counselling to help with the five years of withdrawal pains since ‘Truth’ was released?

    1. Tell me about it! I was told 18 months ago a new one was coming and it never appeared. The only good news is that once he finishes a book the publisher does not need to do a lot of work so turnaround will be quick

      1. I feel your pain, Grant…can’t say I’ve re-read any of the 9 books yet, but I’ve enjoyed the TV adaptations. Has to be a Truth telemovie on the horizon soon?

      2. I have said it before but I am 83 years old now and it must be touch and go for me and the next Peter Temple book! Please Peter, do the right thing for a UK reader who is now a GREAT Grandmother.

  20. There was a media release in late 2014 about ‘White Dog’ being produced in 2015 as a six-part television series. There was also an update on the ‘Jack Irish’ Wikipedia page commenting that Peter Temple was currently writing a 5th Jack Irish book (hardly a definitive source I know but drowning people do tend to clutch at straws). At this rate by the time number 5 is released Jack’s going to be eligible to join the aged Fitzroy Social Club in his own right.

  21. I am a huge Peter Temple fan too. I just started reading “Truth” again for the 3rd or 4th time and looked for his website so i could thank him for the pleasure he has given me only to be saddened by the news he died back in March this year . I suppose 72 is not a bad innings but I am sorry I can not look forward to more of his work . Still I notice there are some referred to here I have yet to read so all is not lost. It is a sad reflection on our society that such wonderful talent, and you would have to assume humanity, from how he writes was not more widely appreciated and promoted. Especially when you consider the comparative pissants in this field who have been idiolised

    1. This is not a reply to Rob but a general comment on the occasion of my learning that Peter Temple has passed beyond. I put it here so people may see it. Over six years ago I spent half a year creating a tribute-to-Temple website called White Dog. I don’t think that in half a dozen years it has ever elicited a comment. So here’s one ad se ipsum: Truth is a good horse, but she’s dead. Now which of the novels is that from?

  22. I like your list of authors .I must try Richard Price and George Pelecanos . I see you like some Irish crime thrillers -I like Adrian Mckinty’s Sean Buffy novels too. I remember many years ago stumbling across ” Isle of Joy ” in a Vinnies store which turned me on to Don Winslow . I loaned it to a mate of mine with similar reading taste to mine and and his response was that it was the best book he had read all year. His latest one “The Force ” is a beauty too . It think I will skip Laura Lippman if you don’t mind as i have yet to read a female author i have enjoyed . I got caught some years ago reading a book by someone with just initials rather than a first name which just seemed to be getting nowhere and talking too much about about details like table settings and so I stopped and Googled the name of the author only to have the ugly truth revealed . I would add James Lee Burke to my list.

  23. I know what you mean about cultural cringe when it comes to Aussie novels and movies and TV dramas . Most are very ordinary . There is a new TV series just about to start called “Bite Club ” and it looks so excruciating it would be an embarrassment to a primary school drama club.
    As for crime mysteries generally for me it is all about the dialogue and Peter Temple’s has always been poetry . The plot is almost irrelevant . I am nearly finished “Truth” for at least the 4th time and don’t want to read the last few pages and so have to put I back on the shelf .

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