I’ve talked before about my old (bad) habit of avoiding Australian fiction. I’ve assumed it was because I’d read to ‘escape’ and didn’t really want to read about my own backyard. That’s slowly changed over the past 4-5 years however and my proportion of Australian to overseas authors has grown enormously.
Richard Beasley – an author based in Sydney – has previously released the popular Cyanide Games and Hell Has Harbour Views – though is new to me and (as always) it’s great to discover a new crime fiction author and (in particular) a new series.
The Burden of Lies
by Richard Beasley
Series: Peter Tanner Thriller #2
Published by Simon & Schuster AU
on December 1st 2017
Source: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Crime Fiction, Legal Procedural
Self-made property mogul Tina Leonard has already lost her business, her home and custody of her children because South East Banking Corporation left her bankrupt. Now it appears she is being framed for the murder of her banker Oliver Randall, a senior executive of the corporation. Her motive? Revenge for ruining her life and her business.
When maverick lawyer Peter Tanner is brought in to represent Tina, he bends the law to learn the truth. Was the real killer employed by the bank to silence Randall, who knew too much about their corrupt clientele and business dealings?
As Tanner digs deeper the truth is harder and harder to find. Drug dealers and dodgy cops are a breed apart from corrupt corporate bankers, who’ll do anything to keep their names in the clear.
Who really silenced Randall? Tanner gets more than he bargained for as he tangles with craven bent banks and a client who can't talk, and danger lurks far too close to home.
This is actually the second of the books in the series but it’s the sort of ‘mid-series’ book I enjoy. Firstly I didn’t feel as I was missing huge amounts of backstory; and secondly there wasn’t SO much information dumped in that it makes the first book in the series redundant.
It had actually been a while since I read a legal procedural or legal thriller so this was a welcome change of pace (although I’ve subsequently read and reviewed a new Harry Bosch which had a strong legal element via the involvement of Mickey Haller!).
I really liked Tanner. He’s incredibly unorthodox and – it seems – struggling at the moment with his conscience. I wondered if he was the same in the first book of the series or if this newish professional doubt came about from that case. Interestingly he doesn’t seem to think he’s got a conscience but the very fact that occurs to him was a little telling. There’s some interesting self-analysis happening and I enjoyed it when his psychologist suggested he cast his analytical eye over his own behaviour (rather than just that of his defendants and witnesses) for a change. She was talking about his relationship with women, but I think the same applies to his life in general.
Tanner’s very likeable through all of this self-analysis and I’m definitely keen to read more in the series to see where his character goes.
The plot itself was interesting though became quite ‘dense’ a few times. My eyes tend to glaze over at talk of conspiracy theories or bloody pharmaceutical companies and corruption and the like and I was initially worried that the amount of detail we were given about the banking industry and business loans might send me into some sort of bleary eyed stupor.
However, it ultimately meshed well with the property development angle and I know THAT’S a contemporary issue – property developers, government donations, decision makers and corruption… a nasty mix. I worked with a very astute ex-judge several years ago and when he talked about government corruption it was always local government, developers and planning decisions that worried him most.
We don’t get to know Tanner’s defendant Tina very well, and I’m not sure if that was on purpose (to keep our focus on the case rather than the individuals) or whether it was something lacking… though I suspect the former. Similarly we don’t spend a lot of time with Jenny Singh, Tanner’s offsider, though I’m thinking there’s more to her story as there was a throwaway comment about a wealthy family. And then there’s Kit Gallagher, Jenny’s boss and Tanner’s friend, whose blunt cynicism I liked. Of course there are also a few people I’m assuming will continue to pop up in the series, including Tanner’s investigator and former mentor. And then there’s his young son as well as his kinda-estranged-but-not father, with whom he has a complex relationship.
This was an enjoyable read. The plot was complex and interested me, though it did get a bit detailed on a few occasions (or perhaps that says something about the type of crime I like to read about – less of the white collar stuff and more of the murderous stuff). It was the characters I enjoyed the most however. There was a strong sense of cynicism wafting throughout the novel – some of it about underhanded dealings in Sydney, some of it about the law and some of it viaTanner and his view of the world. He was, however, very likeable and I found it easy to become invested in his life and look forward to meeting him again.
The Burden of Lies by Richard Beasley will be published in Australia by Simon & Schuster on 1 December 2017.
I received an early reading copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.