All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Line Of Sight – David Whish-Wilson

on August 22, 2013

Line Of SightLine Of Sight (Frank Swann #1)
David Whish-Wilson
Penguin Books Aus
2010, 251p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Superintendent Frank Swann is a whistleblower on his own kind, the lowest of the low. He has provided information about corrupt police in Western Australia in the 1970’s and now there is a royal commission into his allegations. When brothel owner Ruby Devine is murdered execution style on a golf course, shot four times in the head, Swann knows that it was most likely a copper or someone paid by one who carried out the hit. Ruby knew things and in silencing her, they send a message to those like her.

Swann’s eldest daughter Louise has been missing and Ruby was one of the last people to see her before she vanished completely. Now that Ruby is gone, Swann has hit a dead end in searching for her but he still continues to dig, to send out flyers, hoping for something. Rumour has it that someone was at Ruby’s house the night she was killed…and that someone might know something. If Swann can find that person he might be able to not only finally be able to name Ruby’s killer but also hopefully, find his daughter. If she hasn’t been used as a way to punish him for speaking out.

Judge Harold Partridge from Victoria is in charge of hearing the royal commission and it’s fired a challenge in his blood. Despite being asked by the Premier to step down, he has refused. He knows that this royal commission’s outcome has already been decided by those in power here in this state that is so far removed from the east coast. But that doesn’t stop him staging his own little investigation. He’s impressed by Swann and not easily taken in by the other witnesses attempts to discredit him and his psychological state. Although Partridge could see this done and go home back to his wife and forget about it, he chooses not to, even though that decision places his health at risk.

And then there’s the shooter, in town to murder a cop. But which one?

Line of Sight is the first book from Australian author David Whish-Wilson revolving around Superintendent Frank Swann of the Western Australia police. It’s set in the 1970’s, during a time of corruption in the police force. Swann has blown the whistle on illegal doings revolving around certain detectives that include taking protection money from brothel owners, organising crimes from armed robbery up to the importation of illegal drugs from Asia and all sorts of taxation offences. Many wives of the detectives accused have large property portfolios in their wives names, the worth of which far exceeds any police salary. The corruption goes all the way to the top – the Premier, the Minster (a former police officer himself) etc are all involved or at least possess knowledge of the activities. I received the author’s most recent novel, Zero At The Bone for review from the publisher but was reluctant to read it until I had been able to read this one as it also revolves around Swann. Fortunately the publisher was able to accommodate my request and I was able to read this one and get to know Swann and his background and the events that will lead to him being in the position he is at the beginning of Zero At The Bone.

Being one to blow the whistle on illegal doings, one might assume that Swann is the ‘good guy’ and in a way he is but that’s not to say he’s innocent of any wrong-doing himself. Swann’s father-in-law was a policeman and saw the potential in Swann, who had been raised by a petty-criminal stepfather who beat him and often forced him to work for him. He kept Swann informed of the ‘purple circle’ of untouchable police officers and made sure that Swann would come to him if ever forced to do anything he didn’t want to. Swann was from the old school of policework where roughing up suspects was not uncommon and probably even expected. Swann talks of ‘breaking’ informants, reducing them down to nothing by fists or threats until they crack and spill what he wants to hear and he owns them. He’s very tough but in this novel he’s also broken himself. He’s isolated from his family, sleeping in a cheap motel with a hand on his gun. But despite this and also despite his isolation from the rest of the force, he is a man to fear and it’s clear that several people still do even though he’s rumoured to be a dead man walking. He has several key people that he trusts to collect information for him and although he’s left his family home to protect his wife and two younger daughters, he doesn’t exactly hide. He gives beatings, he receives beatings, he seems resigned to the fate of inevitably being executed once he has outlived his usefulness (the royal commission failing due to his mental instability thus proving the police to be the fine upstanding members of society they’d like everyone to believe they are). However the one thing that seems to drive him is finding his missing daughter, who is seventeen. He doesn’t know whether or not she’s alive or dead and several times in this novel has to face a body at a crime scene or in a morgue, the possibility that it might be her.

Line of Sight is a gritty crime novel that makes me think of the police dramas I’ve seen on television that focus around corrupt cops – but it’s better. It’s raw, bare bones writing that gets straight to the point. Swann is an often difficult character to connect with because he clearly operates outside the parameters of what you’d expect from a cop, even a whistle-blowing one. But there’s something inherently appealing about him, something that makes you want him to succeed. He’s fighting a fight against an almost impenetrable wall of corruption and the odds are stacked against him but he’s also not exactly the classic hero type either, the one that’s too good to be true. He’s got a lot of depth to him and I think that characterisation is why I liked this book so much.

8/10

Book #221 of 2013

Aussie Author ChallengeI’m counting this book towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge. This is the 13th book read for the challenge, so technically it’s complete! I am continuing to participate though, in order to increase the amount of books read by men.

 

 

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