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It’s been a decade since I have read Adrian Hyland’s Gunshot Road and Diamond Dove yet both Australian crime novels remain favourites, so I jumped at the opportunity to read Canticle Creek.
On the Radar: Follow the desert star | Crime Fiction Lover
You can almost feel the blanketing heat and crunch of dry foliage underfoot while reading Canticle Creek ... a well-paced, atmospheric thriller with unexpected twists’ ― The West Australian Case Study will fascinate anyone with an interest in the radical psychiatry that went hand in glove with ’60s counterculture. It’s a disorienting, darkly funny novel, constructing a tale about the labyrinth of identity within the game-like frame of metafiction. An author becomes obsessed with writing about an enfant terrible of psychiatry, one Collins Braithwaite, and stumbles across notebooks from a peculiar case. A young woman calling herself Rebecca presents for treatment as one of Braithwaite’s clients, but she is really gunning for the charismatic shrink himself. Rebecca is convinced her sister, Veronica, a former patient who committed suicide, was driven over the edge by him. Determined to bring him down, she initiates a game of cat-and-mouse between therapist and client – one that hangs on the monkey bars of literary and psychiatric satire before falling onto sharper philosophical ground. The witty, funny and descriptive nature of the storyline was interesting and gave way to a good imagination. I loved the characters and how the author focused more on female protagonists. Although Daisy was already dead, author makes us fall in love with a character who doesn’t even make an appearance except in prologue and in memories.Jesse's a fabulous, strong, believable character who arrives in Victoria determined to find the truth no matter what. Supported in her determination by her father, they end up staying in the small artistic community that Daisy and Adam had lived in, digging into some dodgy logging practices, unearthing some suspect connections to Melbourne mobsters along the way. There's plenty of threat, personal and community based, and there's a good supporting cast, as well as fabulous sense of a place. Not specifically named, I'd be prepared to take a relatively informed guess is influenced by the area around the Kinglake Ranges.
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The readers of Canticle Creek will learn about how small communities can interact with each other. Also, the readers will understand that they can not save everyone if they do not want to help themselves.As the temperature soars, and the ground bakes, the wilderness surrounding Canticle Creek becomes a powderkeg waiting to explode. All it needs is one spark. an entertaining and engrossing novel. Hyland has written the ideal story for a long, hot summer, where fire always seems a possibility.’ ― The Canberra Times
Canticle Creek by Adrian Hyland | Goodreads Canticle Creek by Adrian Hyland | Goodreads
I feel I’d recognise his people if I ran into them in a dusty pub (or an art gallery). His descriptions of characters and landscape are memorable. I really enjoyed this and his two Emily Tempest books. I hope we don’t have to wait another ten years for a new one. He and Garry Disher are both worth waiting for, though. The common narrative that pits humanity against nature assumes that our “innate greed” implicates us all in climate change. The environmental movement, too, buys into this myth with its longing for pristine wilderness unspoiled by humankind, argues Jeff Sparrow. This urgent, incisive work resoundingly refutes this arbitrary divide by showing how industrialisation, in the hands of the wealthy and powerful, drove a wedge between ordinary people and the natural world. Hence, the simplistic “jobs versus environment” binary that stymies our current climate-change debate. The alternative, however, is right under our noses. “In pre-capitalist Australia, humans did not despoil the land.” They worked in harmony with it, enhancing nature rather than plundering it. And it was a collective endeavour. It is in this understanding of human nature that Sparrow finds hope. Its a fantastic read, bringing to life modern Australia in vivid colours. I thoroughly enjoyed it and really hope the author has more in store for Jesse!Award winning Australian author Adrian Hyland makes a return to the publishing scene with Canticle Creek, an evocative and tense crime fiction novel. Canticle Creek is a gripping murder mystery, just a brief examination of the crime scene is enough to convince Jesse that the police, who believe Adam killed his girlfriend, Daisy, and died when his car left the road as he attempted to flee, are wrong. Looking for an alternative narrative, Jesse puts several of the locals, and a Melbourne mobster, offside as she noses around the small community. Change plays an important role too. Nadia wants to change her life; Sam suddenly broadens his artistic horizons so late in life and Dom wants to redevelop the area to boost the local economy. At the same time there are those resistant to change and what it entails, the logging that scars the landscape and building work that destroys natural flora and fauna. Daisy Baker’s love of nature is clear from her artwork and activism, her murder was not the senseless crime it first appears. Seemingly disparate elements all skilfully woven into a storyline that is cautionary and modern but also with a rich vein of old-fashioned power and greed running through it.