Inspector Hal Challis has been summoned to his boyhood home, Mawson’s Bluff in the Australian Outback, where his father is dying. There his past comes back to haunt him... and endanger his life. Meanwhile, a serial pedophile is on the loose on the Mornington Peninsula, and Sergeant Ellen Destry, who is left to head up the area’s Crime Investigation Unit, must find a little girl who was abducted from the fairgrounds at the annual Waterloo Show before it is too late.
Australian Disher's fine fourth novel to feature Insp. Hal Challis, head of Peninsula East's Crime Investigation Unit in Waterloo, Queensland (after 2005's Snapshot), opens with the kidnapping of 10-year-old Katie Blasko. In Challis's absence, Sgt. Ellen Destry leads the investigation while her boss visits his dying father in the South Australia sheep-farming village he came from (and does some unofficial sleuthing on the mysterious disappearance of his brother-in-law five years earlier). When the girl is discovered, viciously abused, Destry's supervisors are a bit too eager to close the case as the inquiry widens into something much larger. Disher deftly weaves in layers of complexity, particularly the resentful antagonism that separates Waterloo's lower-middle-class families from the town's power structure. A compelling mix of procedural detail and action round out a fully credible plot and characters. Though some of the multitudinous subplots dilute the novel's overall impact, it's nonetheless a deeply satisfying read.