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on 14 November 2005
I like Jack Irish. I like him a lot. Fortunately for me MacAdam/Cage now publishes author Peter Temple's noir novels, featuring Mr. Irish, in the US. By the way, he is not Irish at all, but the great-grandson of I. Reich, a German Jewish immigrant to Australia. In a market chock-full of detective type anti-heroes, Jack stands above the pack as the only Renaissance sleuth. He's also a man from Melbourne who gives great Aussie slang! Literary points for that! Professionally his moniker reads "licensed criminal attorney," but he branches out into debt collecting and is not above doing his own investigative work either. A horse-racing man and habitual gambler, barfly, apprentice cabinetmaker and Australian Rules Football fanatic, Irish is just pulling himself off the rails, and a serious bout with self destruction involving alcohol, when the novel begins. His wife was murdered by a disgruntled former client and Jack is only now beginning to cope with the rage and guilt while sober.
As he surfaces, he discovers that Danny McKillop, supposedly a former client, has been leaving a series of desperate sounding messages on his answering machine. Jack needs to refresh his memory since the Danny McKillop part of his past is a blur. The files show him the man was convicted of a hit and run accident, while under the influence of considerable alcohol, which resulted in a young woman's death. There were witnesses and plenty of evidence, so Irish could not have done much on Danny's behalf...even if he had been sober with his act pulled together. Recently released after serving ten years in the penitentiary, McKillop apparently wants to speak with his old lawyer ASAP. When Irish starts returning the multiple phone calls, he is informed that Danny has been murdered, like yesterday - by a cop, no less, who claims self defense.
Jack is also tipped-off that Danny may have been innocent - that the woman's death, which he supposedly caused, might have benefited some politically powerful people. A few too many convenient murders later, (inconvenient, however, for Irish who is trying to shed some light on what appears to be a series of crimes, scams and cover-ups), Jack is warned off the case. It's those powerful people again. He is scared enough to seriously consider dropping it too. I told you he is a Renaissance sleuth, and not ashamed to be called a coward either. Seriously, there is wonderful dark humor throughout, but Temple's prose communicates a sense of evil menace quite effectively. It is not difficult to understand Jack Irish's fear given what fuels it.
Although plot driven, I am extremely drawn to the protagonist and his supporting cast. These characters, and Irish's interaction with them, give wonderful depth to the book. Jack works part time for Charlie Taub, a master cabinetmaker, and is dedicated to learning the craft despite the flack he frequently takes from his employer and teacher. It is obvious that the concentration required for the demanding carpentry work gives Irish some peace of mind and some breathing space as well.
Then there are the horse racing guys - or at least that's how I have labeled them. These men do not fool around with spending a day at the track. Their well-orchestrated machinations involve spotting horses who are long shots, outsiders, and setting them up to win, against the odds, for profit and pleasure. The wonderful Harry Strang, who gives a whole new meaning to "moneyed," is the man you want to see about a horse. Cam, who has "the Eye" know more than most about thoroughbreds and when he is not advising Harry about the four-legged creatures, he is enforcing Stang's will upon the two-legged variety. The gang down at the local pub is also introduced here as is Drew, Jack's former partner, and Linda, a potential love interest.
Peter Temple has won four Ned Kelly Awards, (the Australian equivalent of the Edgars), for Crime Fiction, including one for Best First Novel with "Bad Debts." Known in Australia primarily for his Jack Irish novels, Temple has a following which could very well expand to include a US audience now that "Black Tide" (book two) has also been released.
Looks like a winning series to me - certainly based on this well written, highly enjoyable debut. Highly recommended.
JANA
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on 23 April 2015
Usually I read them in order but jumped the gun here when I bought "Black Tide" first when I saw it in a charity shop. I had really enjoyed the TV series and was willing to give the books a try. Although enjoyable I was not hugely impressed as I found the story line dwelt too much on Jack's peripheral activities at the expense of the main plot. But I thought I would probably go back and try the first in the series the more so since "Bad Debts" was becoming increasingly hard to get hold of. AND AM I GLAD I DID!

This is an excellent introduction to the series and the main characters. The peripheral activities are there and they have to be because they are integral to defining the main character but this time not at the expense of the main plot which is advanced rapidly through the book. There is no doubt the plot is complex but it is well worth sticking with.

These books are very reminiscent of the classic gumshoe novels of Ross MacDonald and Raymond Chandler but brought up to date. I shall certainly read my way through the next in the series.

Recommended.
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on 10 August 2011
There is a delight in discovering a "new" writer and very few of my personal discoveries have been as pleasurable as Peter Temple. I have just learned that his classic "Truth" is to be made into a film and two of the Jack Iriah seris are destined to be TV movies

I have loaned some of the books to friends and family and in all instances they have also enjoyed the reading experience.

Peter Temple has won four Ned Kelly Awards, (the Australian equivalent of the Edgars), for Crime Fiction, including one for Best First Novel with "Bad Debts." Known in Australia primarily for his Jack Irish novels but there is more...
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on 16 January 2012
I liked Jack Irish. I liked everything about this book. It is well written with good characters, good plot and well structured.

If I had any criticism it is that there is no real originality about the story or the characters. Of its private eye style genre it is up there with some of the best and it is certainly a page turner and you do wonder how he will keep himself from getting killed. There are also some nice humorous touches so Mr Temple has done a really good job here.

Now that I have found him I will certainly be reading more of Jack Irish.
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on 2 February 2012
First let me say how much I enjoyed this story. These are the subjects covered Murder, bent coppers, the church, under age sex, a horse racing syndicate and for good measure cabinet making. This means that there are numerous characters but they meld into the story and never trip over one another. That is down to the skill of the writer and he manages to keep the pressure up throughout the book. He does all of this without being offensive to any one group. Yes I will read more of this gentleman - in fact I think I will download now
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on 7 May 2013
I loved Broken Shore with its marvellous atmosphere and characters. In Bad Debts the action sequences are gripping, but I found the narrative full of confusing characters and therefore hard to follow.
Another thing, Temple uses a lot of Aussie slang in this novel - interesting, but again, a bit of a hurdle for British readers. Referring back often to check out a name means you lose the flow.
i'm still a Peter Temple fan!
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on 21 June 2016
I usually read the books and then decide if I want to watch the tv series/movie, as they seldom live up to their literary counterpart. However having come across the Jack Irish series on tv and loving it, I thought I would give the books a whirl. I wasn't disappointed. There are a few slight differences and although it can be a bit hard to remove the voice/ face of the tv actors when reading the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the written story. Well paced and funny with a classic Aussie dry sense of humour, it was good to read a little more detail than can be fully explored on tv for time reasons. I will definitely read the other books in the series.
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on 24 September 2011
Jack Irish will not appeal to everyone, but I find him an amusing and entertaining protagonist in this early series of Peter Temple stories - which lead on to his quite exceptional later work. Very Australian and gritty without being brutally explicit.
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on 25 January 2016
Believable story line, prescient given the date the book was written. Would be of interest to fans of Michael Connolly, James Lee Burke, Ian Rankin, Wm McIlvanney etc. Loved the linking of very different aspects of Irish's life.
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on 6 September 2013
Took it on holiday and finished it within 2 days.

It turned out NOT to be yet another detective led crime thriller and was all the more interesting because of it.

I will read more by this author.
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