Peter Temple held crime writing up to the light and, with his poet's ear and eye, made it his own incomparable thing.
Peter Temple started publishing novels late, when he was fifty, but then he got cracking. He wrote nine novels in thirteen years. Along the way he wrote screenplays, stories, dozens of reviews.
When Temple died in March 2018 there was an unfinished Jack Irish novel in his drawer. It is included in The Red Hand, and it reveals the master at the peak of his powers. The Red Hand also includes the screenplay of Valentine's Day, an improbably delightful story about an ailing country football club, which in 2007 was adapted for television by the ABC. Also included are his short fiction, his reflections on the Australian idiom, a handful of autobiographical fragments, and a selection of his brilliant book reviews.
Ned Kelly Award winner Temple (1946 2018), who was born in South Africa, considered himself an "Australian by rebirth," as Michael Heyward notes in the introduction to this welcome collection of miscellany. The six short stories, 16 essays and reviews, and an unfinished novel about Melbourne people finder Jack Irish provide a wonderful tour of Temple's work. Perhaps the highlight among the stories, which celebrate the Australian character and landscape, is "Crossroads," a brilliant character study of women factory workers who escape from dreary, depressing routine. The reviews and essays, which discuss such authors as Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, John le Carr , Kathy Reichs, and James Ellroy, abound with striking similes ("The book is as thick as a tax manual"; "the plot sags like a boarding-house mattress"). Of less appeal to an American audience may be the concluding item a made-for-TV movie script filled with staccato Australian dialect. This volume is a must for Jack Irish fans, as well as a good place to start for readers new to Temple.