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5.0 out of 5 stars First in excellent Australian police procedural series
The Dragon Man is first in a series of five, soon to be six, novels about Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his Sergeant, Ellen Destry. It's one of my favourite kinds of novel, in that it describes in detail a police investigation into a crime, provides a strong sense of location and society, and also addresses the personal and professional lives of the detectives...
Published on 29 Dec 2011 by Maxine Clarke

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
This is OK.

I can't fault the atmosphere, or the writing. This was much too slow for me, with lots of co-incidences and a thoroughly predictable whodunnit ending.

I liked the cat and mouse, but this felt like 150 pages of story stretched out to 246. It's not often I think of such a short book as being too long, but I felt this was.

This is...
Published 7 months ago by S


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3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 15 Dec 2013
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S (England) - See all my reviews
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This is OK.

I can't fault the atmosphere, or the writing. This was much too slow for me, with lots of co-incidences and a thoroughly predictable whodunnit ending.

I liked the cat and mouse, but this felt like 150 pages of story stretched out to 246. It's not often I think of such a short book as being too long, but I felt this was.

This is entirely satisfactory and it ticks all the boxes, but it's not a stand out in my book.

3.5/5: recommended with reservations
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5.0 out of 5 stars First in excellent Australian police procedural series, 29 Dec 2011
By 
Maxine Clarke "Maxine of Petrona" (Kingston upon Thames, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dragon Man (Hal Challis Novel) (Hal Challis Mystery 1) (Paperback)
The Dragon Man is first in a series of five, soon to be six, novels about Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his Sergeant, Ellen Destry. It's one of my favourite kinds of novel, in that it describes in detail a police investigation into a crime, provides a strong sense of location and society, and also addresses the personal and professional lives of the detectives concerned.

The crime in this case occurs when a woman is abducted on the Old Peninsula Highway in a (fictional) area south-east of Melbourne, Australia. Challis is responsible for crime over a fairly large area in this peninsula, where constant state cutbacks to social services make the job of the police harder - not just because of the increased likelihood of crime, but in creating a challenge for people's daily lives, for example in organising child care when nurseries are closed down and you have to work shifts.

Challis is a serious-minded policeman, whose disastrous marriage has resulted in his wife being imprisoned. His domestic history is gradually revealed via his wife's late-night, drunk phone calls to her husband from jail - he cannot bear to cut her off completely by divorcing her. Challis is a loner, taking refuge from his less than satisfactory personal life and his heavy workload via his hobby of slowly restoring a vintage World War Two-era plane. His sergeant, Destry, is a highly competent police officer but has her own domestic struggles in the shape of a resentful husband who is also a policeman but at a lower rank, and a sulky teenage daughter - a telling subplot which I am sure reflects many people's experiences.

The story of the crime investigation is very well paced throughout the book as we come to learn more about the day-to-day life of people who live in the Peninsula, as well as and the inner lives of the various members of the police force, positive and negative, as they attempt to find the person who is abducting and killing vulnerable women.

There are several intriguing threads to the main plot, which gradually come together in a tense climax. I have to admit that the identity of the perpetrator was pretty obvious, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of this highly atmospheric novel, which transported me right into the lives and concerns of the people within its pages. I'm definitely going to seek out the subsequent novels in the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars All books in this series are great, 17 Oct 2011
By 
Bill Bell (Paris, France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Dragon Man (Hal Challis Novel) (Hal Challis Mystery 1) (Paperback)
The Hal Challis novels are great. Start with this and just follow him through all Dishers Hal Challis books(there are six). The latest "Whispering Death" are as good as the others and that's a really good sign. The man can write and is among the best in the business. Some of the books are really five star books, but as a whole they are more like four.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A straightforward good read, 29 Feb 2008
By 
Ann Fairweather (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dragon Man (Hal Challis Novel) (Hal Challis Mystery 1) (Paperback)
I can't see this crime novel becoming a bestseller, but if you happen to read it, you certainly will enjoy the good plot, strong characterisation and general background. My only problem with it is that I guessed who was the killer only half way through, because there is only so many possibilities in which character is going to be the culprit. This one was easy to guess and the whole plot relaying on 'who's doing it ?', that can be a bit of a shortcoming. But it is well written and a pleasant, classic police story.
If the plot thickens a bit in the next one, it might be a real hit.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but still a basic police procedural, 20 Sep 2007
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This review is from: The Dragon Man (Hal Challis Novel) (Hal Challis Mystery 1) (Paperback)
Women are being kidnapped and murdered along a stretch of highway in an outer suburb of Melbourne and the murderer is challenging the police to catch him.

The likeable Detective Inspector Challis leads the investigation although many police characters come into play, some of them troubled. There is thus some life in the novel as the characters face their work and personal challenges. I failed to pick the perpetrator so it is fair to say that Disher did weave a reasonable tale. However, there wasn't a great deal of depth to the story and he did leave some loose ends.

I bought this book because I am from Melbourne so I confess to having had a vested interest. But the plot is best described as standard rather than truly absorbing. 7/10
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The Dragon Man (Hal Challis Novel) (Hal Challis Mystery 1)
The Dragon Man (Hal Challis Novel) (Hal Challis Mystery 1) by Garry Disher (Paperback - 2 May 2007)
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