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Shaken by a scrape with death, Detective Joe Cashin has been posted away from the big-city homicide squad to the quiet town on the South Australian coast where he grew up. Carrying physical scars and not a little guilt, he spends his time playing the country cop, walking his dogs, and thinking about how it all was before. But when a prominent local millionaire is attacked and left for dead in his own home, Cashin is thrust into what becomes a murder investigation. The evidence points to three boys from the nearby aboriginal community--everyone seems to want to blame them. Cashin is unconvinced and soon begins to see the outlines of something far more terrible than a burglary gone wrong. Winner of the Ned Kelly Award, Australia's major prize for crime fiction, The Broken Shore is a transfixing novel about a place, a family, politics, and power and the need to live decently in a world where so much is rotten. GLOSSARY OF AUSTRALIAN TERMS Abo: Abbreviation of "Aboriginal." The usage is derogatory except in Aboriginal English. Aggro: "Aggression" or "aggressive." (Just takes two or three drinks, then he gets aggro. ) Ambo: An ambulance worker. (The following sentence is possible: Mate the last thing I need is an aggro Abo ambo.) Bickie: A cookie. Abbreviation of biscuit. Bloodhouse: A hotel known for its fights. Blow-in: A term of scorn for a newcomer, particularly one who voices an opinion about local affairs or tries to change anything. (Bloody blow-in, what does he know about this town?) Bludger: Once, a man living off a prostitute's earnings; now applied to anyone who shirks work, duty, or obligation. A dole bludger is someone who would rather live on unemployment benefits than take a job. Bluey: A workman's hard-wearing cotton jacket. It can also be a blanket, a cattle dog, or a red-haired person. Boong: A derogatory term for an Aboriginal person used by non-Aboriginals. Brickie: Bricklayer. Buckley's: To have Buckley's chance or Buckley's hope is to have very little or no prospect of success. The term probably derives from William Buckley, a convict who escaped and lived with an Aboriginal community. Bundy: Bundaberg rum, named for the Queensland sugar town. It is often drunk with Coca-Cola (Bundy and Coke). Burg: Burglary. Chook: Chicken. It can also mean an older woman or a silly person. Cleanskin: Once a term for unbranded animals, it now denotes someone with an unblemished record or an unskilled person or a wine sold without a brand name. Cop it: To take the blame or accept responsibility. To cop it sweet is to take misfortune or blame in a resigned way. Copshop: Police station. Corrie iron: Corrugated galvanized iron sheet. Dill: A stupid, silly or incompetent person. Dob: To inform on someone, to blame or implicate him or her. Someone who dobs is a dobbler. Fibro: Fibro-cement building material used for cheap housing, garages or shacks. Also used for a house made of fibro-cement. (Might live in a mansion now; six months ago, it was a fibro.) Flannelshirt: A person from the country or the poorer outer suburbs who wears cheap cotton shirts, usually checked. Footy: Australian rules football, the world's finest ball game, and the ball used. (Let's have a kick of the footy.) On my hammer: Putting pressure on me. Hoon: Once, a procurer of prostitutes, but now any badly behaved person, usually a young male. Irresponsible young drivers are hoons who go for a hoon in their cars. Mark Twain uses the expression as drunk as hoons in Sketches Old and New, where it presumably derives from "Huns." Hume: The Hume Highway. It runs either from Sydney to Melbourne, or from Melbourne to Sydney. KALOF: Police acronym for "Keep A Lookout For." Load: To frame someone with a crime. (They loaded him up with it, reckoned he was overdue.) Lucky dip: Relying on chance or fortune. From the drawing of a lucky number or prize from a barrel. Milk stout: A dark beer, sometimes claimed to have medicinal properties. Offsider: A sidekick, a junior helper, from a bullock-driver's assistant, who walked on the offside of the wagon. Panelbeater: Bodyshop worker. Perp: The vertical mortar between bricks. Abbreviation of "perpendicular." Pillowbiter: Male homosexual. Pommy: Someone from England. The English are often known as Pommy bastards. This has been known to be said affectionately. The term derives from "pomegranate" as rhyming slang for "immigrant." Prac: Practice experience session, as in a teaching prac. Punter: A gambler, one who takes a punt, but also used to mean a customer or client. (What this art gallery needs is more punters coming through the door.) Quickpick: A lottery ticket that spares the buyer the task of choosing numbers by randomly allocating them. Anything chosen without much thought or care. Also a term for someone, not necessarily a prostitute, picked up for sex. Rec reserve: A public recreation area, often with a football or cricket field. Rego: Vehicle registration letters and numbers. Pronounced with a soft g, as in "Reginald." Rorters and shicers: An expression joining two unlovely types: rorters are exploiters and manipulators--the verb is to ror--and shicers (shysters) are cheats and swindlers. For some reason, political rorts are alleged almost daily in Australia. RSL: The Returned and Services League looks after the interests of those who have served in the Australian armed forces. An RSL clubhouse is known as the RSL. Salvo: A member of the Salvation Army. Sangers: Sandwiches. Someone who fancied a chicken sausage sandwich could ask for a chook snag sanger. Servo: Gas station. Abbreviation of "service station." SOG: Special Operations Group, an elite Victoria Police detachment used for dangerous operations. Known in the force as Sons of God or Soggies, as in: "The dill says he's got dynamite. Job for the Soggies here, mate." Spaggy bol: Spaghetti bolognese. Also called spag bol. Italian immigrants to Australia were once called spags. Stickybeak: An inquisitive person. Also the act of snooping. (Have a stickybeak around there, see what you can find.) Suckhole: A vulgar term for one who curries favor with others, an obsequious person. A future leader of the Australian Labor Party once described those in the Liberal Party who looked to America for leadership as a conga line of suckholes. Super: Abbreviation of "superannuation," a pension scheme. Swaggie: An itinerant, a person of no fixed address who carries all his belongings in a swag. (A celebrated note passed to a speaker in the Australian federal Parliament advising him to change the subject read: Pull out, digger, the dogs are pissing on your swag.) A distinction was formerly made between swaggies and travelers, the latter being people looking for work. The expression Nice day for traveling means: You're fired. Tabbing: Taking drugs in tablet form. Titsoff: Very cold, abbreviation of "Cold enough to freeze your tits off." Trackie: Tracksuit. Tucker: Food of any kind. Ute: Pickup truck, an abbreviation of "utility vehicle." An admired use is beaut ute. WA: The state of Western Australia. Work Experience: The Australian practice of high school students doing work, usually unpaid, to gain experience.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Peter Temple is the author of eight crime novels, five of which have won the Ned Kelly Award for crime fiction. He has worked as a journalist and editor for newspapers and magazines in several countries. He lives in Victoria, Australia.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
CASHIN WALKED around the hill, into the wind from the sea. It was cold, late autumn, last glowing leaves clinging to the liquidambars and maples his great-grandfather’s brother had planted, their surrender close. He loved this time, the morning stillness, loved it more than spring.
The dogs were tiring now but still hunting the ground, noses down, taking more time to sniff, less hopeful. Then one picked up a scent and, new life in their legs, they loped in file for the trees, vanished.
When he was near the house, the dogs, black as liquorice, came out of the trees, stopped, heads up, looked around as if seeing the land for the first time. Explorers. They turned their gaze on him for a while, started down the slope.
He walked the last stretch as briskly as he could and, as he put his hand out to the gate, they reached him. Their curly black heads tried to nudge him aside, insisting on entering first, strong back legs pushing. He unlatched the gate, they pushed it open enough to slip in, nose to tail, trotted down the path to the shed door. Both wanted to be first again, stood with tails up, furry scimitars, noses touching at the door jamb.
Inside, the big poodles led him to the kitchen. They had water bowls there and they stuck their noses into them and drank in a noisy way. Cashin prepared their meal: two slices each from the cannon-barrel dog sausage made by the butcher in Kenmare, three handfuls each of dry dog food. He got the dogs’ attention, took the bowls outside, placed them a metre apart.
The dogs came out. He told them to sit. Stomachs full of water, they did so slowly and with disdain, appeared to be arthritic. Given permission to eat, they looked at the food without interest, looked at each other, at him. Why have we been brought here to see this inedible stuff?
Cashin went inside. In his hip pocket, the mobile rang.
Kendall Rogers, from the station.
‘Had a call from a lady,’ she said. ‘Near Beckett. A Mrs Haig. She reckons there’s someone in her shed.’
‘Well, nothing. Her dog’s barking. I’ll sort it out.’
Cashin felt his stubble. ‘What’s the address?’
‘No point. Not far out of my way. Address?’
He went to the kitchen table and wrote on the pad: date, time, incident, address. ‘Tell her fifteen-twenty. Give her my number if anything happens before I get there.’
The dogs liked his urgency, rushed around, made for the vehicle when he left the building. On the way, they stood on station, noses out the back windows. Cashin parked a hundred metres down the lane from the farmhouse gate. A head came around the hedge as he approached.
‘Cop?’ she said. She had dirty grey hair around a face cut from a hard wood with a blunt tool.
‘The uniform and that?’
‘Plainclothes,’ he said. He produced the Victoria Police badge with the emblem that looked like a fox. She took off her smudged glasses to study it.
‘Them police dogs?’ she said.
He looked back. Two woolly black heads in the same window.
‘They work with the police,’ he said. ‘Where’s this person?’
‘Come,’ she said. ‘Dog’s inside, mad as a pork chop, the little bugger.’
‘Jack Russell,’ said Cashin.
‘How’d ya know that?’
‘Just a guess.’
They went around the house. He felt the fear rising in him like nausea.
‘In there,’ she said.
The shed was a long way from the house, you had to cross an expanse of overgrown garden, go through an opening in a fence lost beneath rampant potato-creeper. They walked to the gate. Beyond was knee-high grass, pieces of rusted metal sticking out.
‘What’s inside?’ Cashin said, looking at a rusted shed of corrugated iron a few metres from the road, a door half open. He felt sweat around his collarbones. He wished he’d let Kendall do this.
Mrs Haig touched her chin, black spikes like a worn-down hair brush. ‘Stuff,’ she said. ‘Junk. The old truck. Haven’t bin in there for years. Don’t go in there.’
‘Let the dog out,’ he said.
Her head jerked, alarmed. ‘Bastard might hurt im,’ she said.
‘No,’ he said. ‘What’s the dog’s name?’
‘Monty, call them all Monty, after Lord Monty of Alamein. Too young, you wouldn’t know.’
‘That’s right,’ he said. ‘Let Monty out.’
‘And them police dogs? What bloody use are they?’
‘Kept for life-and-death matters,’ Cashin said, controlling his voice. ‘I’ll be at the door, then you let Lord Monty out.’
His mouth was dry, his scalp itched, these things would not have happened before Rai Sarris. He crossed the grassland, went to the left of the door. You learned early to keep your distance from potentially dangerous people and that included not going into dark sheds to meet them.
Mrs Haig was at the potato-creeper hedge. He gave her the thumbs up, his heart thumping.
The small dog came bounding through the grass, all tight muscles and yap, went for the shed, braked, stuck its head in the door and snarled, small body rigid with excitement.
Cashin thumped on the corrugated iron wall with his left hand. ‘Police,’ he said loudly, glad to be doing something. ‘Get out of there. Now!’
Not a long wait.
The dog backed off, shrieking, hysterical, mostly airborne.
A man appeared in the doorway, hesitated, came out carrying a canvas swag. He ignored the dog.
‘On my way,’ he said. ‘Just had a sleep.’ He was in his fifties perhaps, short grey hair, big shoulders, a day’s beard.
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