Under the cold bright lights by Garry Disher

cover image

Text Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925498882
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Mystery and suspense. Alan Auhl works for the cold case department, after retiring from Homicide years before. He lives in a large old house with a random selection of boarders and people who need his help. At work he juggles an assortment of cases, including the body that was buried under a concrete slab and the death of John Elphick, whose daughters are convinced that he was murdered, as well as investigating the slick doctor whose wives have a habit of dying. At home he is supporting a woman who has fled with her 10 year old daughter from domestic violence and who is facing the Family Court in a fight to limit her estranged husband's access to her daughter.
The reader is taken on a breath taking ride as Auhl juggles all these complex cases as well as his feelings for his ex-wife and the taunts at work about being old and putting up with the nickname of Retread. He just gets on with the job. Disher captures the attention of the reader with a description of a snake in the backyard of a young couple and the subsequent revelation of a skeleton under the concrete where the snake has taken refuge. The other cases are just as complicated and Disher manages to keep all the plots interesting, with many twists and turns and some surprises as well about the way some of the villains meet their come-uppance.
This is a stand-alone novel, but I hope that Disher continues to write about the unforgettable Alan Auhl. His characters, vivid prose and settings are wonderful.
Pat Pledger