The key background is that Jack Irish was married, but his wife died. He had been a criminal lawyer, but is now a kind of private detective, lives alone (although has a relationship of some manner with Linda (Marta Dusseldorp)), does some work with horse punter Harry Strang (Roy Billing) and his offsider Cam Delroy(Aaron Pedersen), and likes to do carpentry in his spare time. Now, Jack has been introduced to his new niece – the daughter of his wife’s sister. His wife’s father, Justice Loder (Barry Humphries) has asked him to look into the death of a junkie who was blackmailing him, and he discovers a very dangerous underbelly to the city he loves.
Jack Irish is a complex and broken character whose loyalty and dedication to the cause leave us wanting to see him succeed. One thing I really love about this is that things are taken to the extreme; people die and big, horrible stuff happens. But it is excellent Australian television making, with strong scriptwriting, excellent production and a wonderful cast. And the touches of humour mostly brought by the scenes at the Fitzroy Youth Club (apparently, the bar was rebuilt into a set for the filming, but it feels totally genuine. For a Jack Irish experience, head to the Napier in Fitzroy for a pot).
Set in Melbourne, Truth follows Inspector Stephen Villani, first introduced in Temple’s earlier novel, Broken. Villani’s marriage is ending, his relationship with his two daughters is extremely strained and his elderly father’s bush property is under threat of the bushfires that are raging out of control. On top of this, he is investigating several homicides including the death of a woman in a new, exclusive apartment building and the torture and murder of two men in a garage in the suburbs.
There’s no doubt Truth is a crime novel, but it’s far from a genre piece. Temple writes in depth about the emotions and inner workings of the characters so we see his strengths and weaknesses, his doubts, his anger and his regrets. It is a very powerful book that shows one side of Melbourne life at a specific point in time, and it is no wonder that Truth won the Miles Franklin award in 2010.
Joe Cashin is a police officer who has returned to work in his hometown after being injured in the line of duty in Melbourne. He is in constant pain, but is determined to repair his life. The body of an elderly man is discovered, and Cashin has to work in conjunction with police from the next town over. Facing racism and corruption, he works to find the true culprit.
It’s not a simple crime novel. Broken Shore spends as much time on the life and mind of Cashin as it does on the crime that he is investigating. The information is leaked out bit by bit, letting both the character of Cashin and the world he inhabits gradually appear.
Two of Peter Temple’s Jack Irish novels were turned into television movies last year, featuring Guy Pearce as Jack Irish. It has been announced that The Broken Shore is being adapted for television, and will be screened later this year. Don Hany is cast as Joe Cashin. I can’t wait.