Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Garry Disher: WYATT and the Challis & Destry Series

We've seen a flurry of orders recently for books by Garry Disher, particularly the signed ones on our shelves. It's good to see -- Soho Crime's US publication of Disher's crime novels has delighted us, and we've been stacking them up.

The most recent Disher novel to come from Australia to America is WYATT (US pub date was August 2011), a "thriller" that involves the return of solo criminal Wyatt Warren (known to most simply as Wyatt) to his former territory around Melbourne. In an unsual mode of operation, Wyatt is recruited by one of his routine information sources, into what ought to be a simple and elegant heist. But there are too many people involved (including two women), and things go awry. Wyatt had a sense of things slipping out of control early:
Wyatt went still. He'd come to value the quality of Eddie's information, but was wary of the people who supplied it. Wyatt preferred to work alone; he trusted only his own plans. But the big scores always involved others: those he could rely on, those he'd never met before, those who could finger him, those who might cross him.
And all of those are ahead, making this a dark and dangerous episode in Wyatt's career.

There's a great write-up of the book by Glenn Harper at the International Noir Fiction site, and I can't say much more than Harper has already -- except that I think Disher's Wyatt is several shades darker than Donald Westlake's Richard Stark and Tucker Coe books (and WAY darker than the standard Westlake caper novels), with emphasis on how a sociopath functions. Yet I found a bit more emotion tucked into WYATT than Harper did, because I suspected that Wyatt's tangling with a woman in the story who sees things the way he does is going to lead to more interactions in the books to come.

Maybe that's partly because I'm a huge fan of the softer Challis and Destry series that Soho has also brought around the globe for Disher -- with their Australian dates of publication, they are:
The Dragon Man (1999)
Kittyhawk Down (2003)
Snapshot (2005)
Chain of Evidence (2007)
Blood Moon (2009)
Whispering Death (2011)
In fact, Whispering Death hasn't made it to the US yet -- Soho, do you have it scheduled? I hope so! But I've read the others and enjoyed the crawling, challenging progress that Inspector Hal Challis and Sergeant Ellen Destry have made toward understanding and appreciating each other while tackling gruesome crimes. There's enough darkness and despair in both their personal and professional lives to keep this series away from anything actually sweet -- yet there's a tenderness between the two investigators that somehow speaks of hope, despite their careers.

And I think that same tenderness peeks through in a few tiny chinks in WYATT. I'm looking forward to discovering whether I'm on track in my forecast of upcoming books in this series. By the way, the Wyatt series isn't particularly available in the US, but here are the titles, again with Australian publication dates:

Kickback (1991)
Paydirt (1992)
Deathdeal (1993)
Crosskill (1994)
Port Vila Blues (1995)
The Fallout (1997)
Wyatt (2010)
The Wyatt Butterfly (2010: omnibus edition comprising Port Vila Blues and The Fallout)
Now if there were a way to preorder a book that hadn't yet been announced here for publication, believe me, I'd be signing up for Whispering Death already.

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