An Iron Rose by Peter Temple (Australian crime fiction)

When I heard that Peter Temple was the first Australian crime writer to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award I jumped at the chance to read one of his novels.

I don't normally read crime fiction, but I really enjoyed this. It was a tightly constructed, tense read; a first person narrative from Mac Faraday's perspective. Mac Faraday who has retired from city life and is working as a blacksmith in a rural area. He is living the quiet life; spending time with friends, drinking at the pub and playing with an appalling football team. His world is turned upside down when his best friend Ned is found hanging one night and he becomes the carer for Ned's grandson. Instincts from his old life kick in when he comes across press clippings of a young girl's gruesome murder in 1980's, near a facility for wayward young girls. When he begins to investigate this further he becomes mixed up in a dangerous and confusing web of criminal activity. As people from his past start coming back to haunt him he finds that his life is in grave danger.

The style of Temple's writing is hard boiled, a style epitomised by authors such as Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler. The writing is short, sharp and gritty.

The great thing about An Iron Rose is that this books adds a very Australian flavour to this style of writing. Temple provides us with an insight into the Australian language and lifestyle that is very authentic (which is not surprising from an Australian author, albeit one originally from South Africa).

Temple successfully paints the picture of a country town where a lot of the inhabitants know each other well and take their civic responsibility seriously. People share beers at the pub and have a laugh together at the footy. Some people might accuse Temple of stereotyping the Australian lifestyle, but I do think that this is very typical for a lot of people. I especially liked the way that Temple dealt with Ned's Aboriginality. It was mentioned in passing and then not mentioned again. Ned's background wasn't important in that sense, he was accepted as part of his community not because of his Aboriginality and not despite of it. It just wasn't a big deal. Acknowledging his Aboriginality without making anything of it within the story gave the book a more contemporary feel.

An Iron Rose is a wonderful mix of crime, noir and literary fiction and I can absolutely see how a book by Temple has won Australia's premier literary award. It is a very dark book; there is a sense of evil lurking under the surface that sends shivers up your spine.

Summary

What kind of read is this?
A very tense crime novel. It is an easy read but a tense one.

Do I recommend this book?
Yes definitely. I recommend it to everyone. I recommend it to people who love crime fiction and want something a bit different, and to people who don't really like crime fiction but want something a bit different.

Do I recommend that you buy this book?
If you like re-reading crime fiction then yes, but you could probably borrow it from the library and be equally as satisfied.


Star Rating

6.5 / 8

Really enjoyable and well written. I couldn't put it down. I would recommend it.


9 comments

  1. I love the sound of this! I really enjoy suspenseful, tense books so this sounds perfect for me. Excellent review!

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  2. Thanks Emidy. It was really good. I can't wait to get stuck into another Peter Temple novel. I have The Broken Shore sitting on my shelf waiting to be read

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  3. Great review! Sounds like a book I'd enjoy, so I'll add it on my list! Happy reading!

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  4. I've been a Peter Temple fan for a while now, and I've just finished An Iron Rose. It's a stunning book, and your recommendation captured its appeal nicely.
    ==============
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    “Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”
    http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

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  5. I actually like the sound of this one, Becky, so will have to add it to my always growing wish list.

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