Sanctuary by Garry Disher

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Sanctuary, the latest book from Garry Disher held some surprises for me. I am a fan of his Paul Hirschhausen series, and without reading the book’s blurb expected a similar outback noir featuring a police officer investigating crime. There is crime galore in Sanctuary but the emphasis is not on police procedure, but on the life of Grace, a thief who specialises in stealing valuable items like stamps and watches that are easy to carry. It is a lonely life and when a man from her past spots her at a stamp exhibition, she goes on the run again, ending up in the Adelaide Hills. Seeing an ad for a job in an antiques shop, she hopes for a different life working for Erin the owner. But someone is after Erin and Grace is on her old colleague’s radar. Will she be able to finally settle down and stay safe from these two dangerous men?

Sanctuary is a memorable and absorbing crime thriller. Disher ramps up the suspense as he details the life of the two women, Erin who rarely leaves her house and Grace who is trying to have a normal life. It is very easy to relate to Grace, even though she is a thief, and I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering if her old colleague would catch up with her or if she would get caught by the police for her thefts. Other characters, including the two villains and police officers are rounded and believable. Disher’s descriptions of different antiques, the terror that abusive women feel and the shady machinations of criminals and how they operate are vivid and often eye-opening.

Disher is an outstanding crime writer and Sanctuary is another page turner that will thrill his readers.

Themes: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Theft, Antiques, Adelaide (SA).

Pat Pledger