The Wiregrass by Adrian Hyland is an atmospheric read as he’s able to imbue a real sense of its moody, storm-drenched setting. I don’t know Victoria (or the area) at all but – even though I’m not particularly visual – I could imagine its damp bleakness.
Of course, I hadn’t realised when I requested this that it’s the second in a series. It didn’t really matter however, and I enjoyed it so will now need to go and read the first to learn more about somewhat-maverick cop, Jesse Redpath.The Wiregrass
by Adrian Hyland
Published by Ultimo Press
Source: Ultimo Press
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Jesse Redpath has a new job in a new town, Satellite – the stormy weather that greets her first few days on the new beat seems like a sign for what’s to come. A local has died in what seems like an accident, but Jesse isn’t so sure that ‘accident’ wasn’t planned.
All evidence seems to point to Nash, but Jesse’s not sure about that either. Seems like Nash has enemies. And what looks like a close knit community might just be cover for dark secrets. No amount of rain will wash this town clean.
I’m intrigued about what this says about me but this book is written in first person and when it opened and Jesse is driving on the range with her colleague through torrential rain, in the midst of a storm and falling trees, I thought the narrator was male. It wasn’t until someone used her name I realised she wasn’t and I wondered why I’d made the assumption. Anyhoo…
I liked Jesse and though she’s just started in Satellite she seems to have the grudging respect of her colleagues and her boss. She becomes (ahem) involved with Nash before he’s a suspect, which might have not been problematic, except of course for the fact she’s determined to prove he’s innocent of the murder here…. and perhaps one from his past, which means she’s suspended. Freeing her up for her own investigation.
Hyland has obviously introduced some of these characters in the first novel of the series as I struggled initially with them all. Families, friends and family of friends. It didn’t really matter though, as they came and went and will undoubtedly continue popping into the series. I liked those she meets as part of this investigation too, including Nash’s former partner or mentor.
Hyland does a great job at offering up that backstory and suspects who may wish to see Nash suffer now and be setting him up. Having said that, murdering someone to frame Nash does seem a bit extreme, so it’s logical to wonder if there’s an underlying motive for the murder and Nash just happened to be a handy patsy given his past.
In revisiting Nash’s past Hyland touches on a spectrum of criminal activity from white collar crime to drug deals and paedophiles. And then of course there’s Nash’s own childhood, living with a local cult.
Lovers of nature (trees, rocks and animals and stuff) will appreciate Hyland’s (well Jesse’s) insights and knowledge… providing added texture and authenticity, and adding to that sense of place.
I enjoyed the way this ultimately plays out, drawing together a few threads and including some surprises. I’ll certainly hunt down this book’s predecessor (Canticle Creek), to learn a bit more about Jesse’s past and look forward to meeting her again.
The Wiregrass by Adrian Hyland was published in Australia by Ultimo Press and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.