The Broken Shore

by Peter Temple

Paperback, 2007

Call number





Picador (2008), Edition: Reprint, 357 pages


Shaken by a scrape with death, big-city detective Joe Cashin is posted away from the Homicide Squad to a 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. When a prominent local is attacked and left for dead in his own home, Cashin is thrust into a murder investigation. The evidence points to three boys from the nearby Aboriginal community; whom everyone wants to blame. But Cashin is unconvinced, and soon begins to see the outlines of something far more terrible than a simple robbery gone wrong.--From publisher description.

User reviews

LibraryThing member edwardsgt
The cover quote was "Read page one and I challenge you not to finish it", unfortunately for me not only did page one not capture my attention, neither did the following 150+ pages I tried thinking it must improve. Whilst it may accurately capture life in a small town in Victoria, none of the
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characters are sympathetically drawn and the rampant racism expressed by most of them I found disturbing and a little difficult to believe was so widespread. Not recommended despite the cover hype.
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LibraryThing member Johnny1978
I can't get enough of Peter Temple: everytime I read one of his novels I'm enthralled and impressed. The curse of degree in literature is a tendency to become dispassionate and academic, to anaylyse prose style and study metaphors, even when reading the most engaging book. Temple's work turns me
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into a reader again - his is the art of the flawlessly constructed page-turner.
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LibraryThing member whirled
The Broken Shore definitely succeeds as a gripping page-turner, and fans of crime fiction will find much to love about it. For non-devotees such as myself, this tale of murder in small-town Victoria (Australia) showcases some of the limitations of the genre: the hyper-masculine (yet secretly
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wounded) hero, the sometimes obvious red herrings and the intriguing yet completely implausible denouement. That said, it's surely a class above Dan Brown-style dross in terms of both writing and plot, and would make pleasing holiday reading for many.
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LibraryThing member edgeworth
I’m not normally a reader of crime fiction, but Peter Temple won the Miles Franklin for his later novel Truth, so he must be a cut above average. As I understand it, Truth is a semi-sequel to The Broken Shore, so I figured I’d read that first.

The Broken Shore is essentially a hardboiled
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detective novel, complete with a jaded and cynical protagonist. Joe Cashin is in semi-retirement from the homicide squad after being badly injured in an attack by a drug lord that also left a younger detective dead. He now heads up the four-man police station in his quiet hometown of Port Monro, in coastal Victoria. He takes care of his dogs and is keeping himself busy by rebuilding his family’s old homestead. When a local billionaire is found murdered in his mansion, Cashin finds himself drawn back into the world of high profile crime.

I read this while I was visiting Melbourne again, my adopted hometown, before going to the United States. It made me weirdly homesick – for a place which is not technically my home – in a way I can’t articulate. I think it’s the fact that most of it takes place in the Victorian countryside, which is still a bit of an alien place for me. Melbourne feels more like home than Perth ever did, but I never quite got used to Victoria’s old, well-settled, green countryside – a place where, unlike Western Australia, it’s perfectly normal to find a mansion owned by a wealthy horse-breeder out in the sticks.

A bit less plausible was “the Daunt,” the Aboriginal township at the edge of the town of Cromarty (also fictional). It’s considered a place apart, and the local police fear raiding suspects’ houses there in the aftermath of the murder for fear of inciting what one character describes as “a Black Hawk Down situation.” This would have been more plausible in WA or the Northern Territory or Queensland; I’m not aware of any towns in Victoria with sizeable Aboriginal populations. Similarly, the character of Bobby Walshe – an up-and-coming Aboriginal politician in the fictional United Party – also felt very contrived. Temple engages well in general with the clash between Aboriginal and white Australia, which is the subtext of the first half of the novel, but our society isn’t quite at the level where Australian fiction can realistically have a David Palmer character. Which is sad, but there it is. It wouldn’t have stood out so much if the rest of the book hadn’t been pitch perfect in capturing the mood, the tone and the dialogue of a small Australian town.

Those flaws aside, the first half of the novel is great – it’s fast, it’s punchy, it has a particularly well-written scene in which a police operation in a rainstorm goes badly wrong. Temple imbues Cashin with a world-weariness which sets the tone of the novel but avoids becoming too despondent or grating, and I thought I began to see why he went on to win the Miles Franklin (beyond the above-average level of prose and characterisation, for a crime novel). I honestly thought the crime would go unsolved, or be pinned on Aboriginal teenagers Cashin knew to be innocent, and that The Broken Shore would break free of the neat conclusions found in a traditional murder mystery.

But in the second half new suspects emerge, and the investigation goes on, and unfortunately it doesn’t have the same flair as the first half of the novel. The ultimate murderers, in fact, feel more like pantomime villains, and the climax of the novel is a violent set-piece which belongs more in a cop movie than in the quiet, thoughtful, semi-literary novel I thought The Broken Shore was going to be.

I still liked it a lot. I can unequivocally recommend it to fans of crime and mystery fiction, especially in Australia. I just felt a little let down by the ending, but perhaps I was unprepared for the genre conventions. I’ll still read Truth.
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LibraryThing member devilish2
Succinct, spare, witty, delightful prose. I felt like the real Australia was placed before me - the people, the places, their feelings for each other, their interrelationships. Dark and gritty but with a light, humorous touch - not an easy thing to pull off, but he's done it. Great characters too.
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Good twisting plot.
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LibraryThing member kiwifortyniner
A good read. Good plot, and good character development. It shows the darker side of life in Australia, but is believable
LibraryThing member cookiemo
This is set in Australia. In a country town. It is very different from the usual cop/robber book. I enjoyed it.
LibraryThing member SamSattler
I have long believed that quality crime fiction, the kind built around a sense of place and well developed characters, can give the armchair traveler a better feel for a country and its culture than all but the best written travel books. Books like Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore always remind me
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how true that is.

Big city Australian cop Joe Cashin has been exiled to the little police station responsible for the security of the small South Australian coastal town he grew up in – not that the citizens there have much crime to worry about. He has ostensibly been sent to the area to recover from a serious physical injury, but Cashin is the kind of cop whose superiors sometimes need a break from him, and no one seems in a hurry to call him back. Perhaps that is because he is not much into political correctness or going out of his way to make his fellow policemen look good when they do not deserve it.

When local millionaire Charles Bourgoyne is discovered in his mansion with his head bashed in, Cashin soon finds himself at odds with others in the department who are determined to pin the crime on a group of aboriginal teens caught trying to sell the man’s watch. After the case is officially closed, Cashin, ever the introspective loner, decides to investigate the crime on his own. His investigation, made more difficult by the town’s instinctive racism toward its aboriginal population, will lead him deep into a part of the community’s past tainted by child pornography and sexual abuse.

Joe Cashin is not a perfect cop. In fact, he sometimes tends to make the kind of careless or lazy mistake that can place him, his fellow cops, or the success of an investigation in danger. The older he gets, the more Cashin questions what he has done with his life. He is close to no one, including his mother and only brother, but despite not being happy about the situation, he does little to remedy it. But the man has a good heart, and a very big one, at that. He is a staunch defender of the underdog and he believes in second chances, two qualities that mark him as a misfit among his fellow policemen.

The Broken Shore is filled with memorable little moments, unforgettable characters, and complicated personal relationships. It is about much more than the murder of one old man with a past of his own to protect. Peter Temple uses dialogue to develop his characters much in the way that Elmore Leonard has become so celebrated for doing. It works well for Temple, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting into the revealing conversational rhythms of his characters. Readers will be well advised, however, to familiarize themselves with the Australian slang terms in the book’s glossary before beginning the novel (a fun, standalone read, that is) in order to keep the conversation flowing at the pace at which it is meant to be read.

This, my first Peter Temple novel, is actually the author’s ninth, and I look forward to reading the others.

Rated at: 4.0
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LibraryThing member PKXFXNINJA
The thriller The Broken Shore by Peter Temple is a ripping yarn that holds your attention until the end. Clearly, Temple is a masterful story teller; but it seems he wanted to write something bigger than your run of the mill crime thriller. This is a novel about a place, about family, and about
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power. It also highlights the often hidden dynamics and divisions in a long established country community. A prominent local philanthropist is beaten in his home and dies. Evidence suggests that three young men from a local Aboriginal community are responsible; but a persistent policeman, with his own local history is doubtful. To say more would give away a great whodunit. Through this work Temple skilfully challenges myths and stereotypes about race in small town Australia. It also raises the long-standing questions about the nature of policing of Aboriginal people in a way that readers might begin to comprehend something of the dynamics of that tenuous relationship.
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LibraryThing member MarkKeeffe
Fairly good yarn but I'm not really into crime books. Very accurately depicts the funny, dry, self-deprecating humour of many Australians.
LibraryThing member emhromp2
This was a good book indeed. The plot is built up slowly and the writer took good care of former a real life character who is not perfect. He is scarred from a previous case. The only drawback to this book is that you ought to take notes of the names, because at the end of the book I would have
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liked to know who was who again.
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LibraryThing member LaurieRKing
Oh, I do like Temple's writing. Seriously do.
LibraryThing member JoyceFraser
The Broken Shore by Peter Temple
Physically and mentally damaged cop, Joe Cashin has been put out to temporary, maybe, permanent pasture at the cop-shop in the Victorian town of Port Munro. The murder of a local bigwig puts an end to Cashin's quiet life as he is drawn into an increasingly twisted
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and sordid mystery. Sounds like a pretty typical detective genre plot: man-alone detective, murder and mayhem but what set this novel far above the average crime fiction is the accuracy of the language and the spare but evocative descriptions of people and place.

Temple uses the land as a backdrop to the whole story, Cashins need to find peace is characterised through his seemingly futile attempt to tame the neglected family farm, whole tracts of land are tainted by the past and the crimes committed upon them and the cold, drab weather at odds with the stereotypical sunshine associated with Australia adds to the bleak, soul-sapped atmosphere.

The laconic, Ocker lingo is spare, sentences short, blokes talk to the point no words wasted. Only the city folk baffle with words and political posturing. As the plot develops the pace heats up and the reader is confronted with corruption, racism, paedophilia, romance, bunny pie, political intrigue, homophobia, revenge and torture (think Edward II with a modern twist).

The Broken Shore won the Crime Writers Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger plus a whole host of Australian fiction awards and transcended the limiting crime genre label to win the Colin Roderick award for best book of 2006. As a crusty old joker from the pages of The Broken Shore might say “Bugger me, it's a bloody good read mate”.
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LibraryThing member dwate
This brilliant novel, set in coastal Victoria, features Detective Sergeant Joe Cashin who is recuperating after an horrific experience in which one of his fellow detectives was killed and he was badly injured. A neighbour is found critically bashed, and Cashin is reluctantly drawn into what turns
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out to be a murder investigation. Local indigenous youths are suspected, but what should have been a simple intercept turns into a fatal (and highly suspicious) shooting by the local police. Temple draws fascinating characters and has a wonderful knack for terse, informative and often humorous conversation. The Victorian setting, Cashion’s dogs, a helpful swaggie, bigoted police and a host of other characters are economically and convincingly drawn. Themes of child abuse and indigenous inequality are skilfully conveyed without the slightest didacticism. Temple’s books are a joy.
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LibraryThing member bfrost
The first Peter Temple book I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Appealing to the Australian sense of humor I found his gift in understatements wonderful. The pace of the book is not quite right at the end, it starts very slowly and continues at a good pace, till he realises that he must solve
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the crime and tie up all the loose ends in about three pages! Set in rural coastal Victoria, Australia, the description of the setting is brillaint, his main character Cashin, is a grumpy aging-man type character, very irritated by most things but totally endearing to the reader.

AS well as being a good yarn, it touches social issues of race, politics, religion, depression and police corruption. No-one is perfect in this story, not all the bad guys get caught. Not fatalistic, more an attempt to tbe realistic. He gives hope and enjoyment in the friendships and characters that are developed in the stroy and the sense that no matter how bad things may seem, tomorrow is another day. I am looking for more Peter Temple books.
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LibraryThing member RABooktalker
Very involving mystery where the setting serves as an important part of the story.
LibraryThing member Scrabblenut
I enjoyed The Broken Shore, set in Australia, and featuring a troubled cop and a good mystery. Deciphering the Aussie slang is part of the fun of this book. A rich and respected old man is beaten and left for dead, and suspicion points to 3 punks from the aboriginal community nearby. However, for
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cop Joe Cashin, the circumstances don't ring true, and he continues to investigate even when told to back off and suspended for not doing so. Very atmospheric and haunting.
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LibraryThing member buzzwords
Awesome. The descriptions are so vivid you can practically taste them, yet Temple writes with brevity and a laconic Australian style that touches on a squillion social and moral issues.
LibraryThing member RobinDawson
Crime fiction is not my preferred genre, but this is gripping and engrossing - the detective's character is well drawn and there's some excellent dialogue.
LibraryThing member red.yardbird
Great crime novel.
LibraryThing member ABShepherd
This book is a bit grisly and I found it difficult to keep the characters straight. I'm not a big fan of the author's style, but overall the story was intriguing and it kept me interested.
LibraryThing member Yllom
Temple is the winner of five Ned Kelly Awards by the Crime Writers' Association of Australia. Joe Cashin is a big city cop who has gone back to his childhood home on the coast of South Australia to recuperate, physically and mentally. When a local millionaire is murdered, Cashin won't accept the
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easy story that some local aboriginal boys are responsible. In the course of the investigation, Australian political and social divisions are examined, and the sense of place is almost another character.
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LibraryThing member DCarlin

I found Broken Shore a tad uninteresting. Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was my second consecutive Peter Temple book, or perhaps it was the overuse of 'colourful' and politically incorrect language. Let me quickly,add that this reviewer has been around the traps a few times and heard it all
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In many instances I felt many of the adjectives used were unnecessary and spoiled an otherwise (potentially) good storyline.

The closing was very like a television show. One minute the hero is fighting for his life, the next, life threatening wounds are overcome and he is having a laugh with his mates at the pub, so to speak.

I knew I had only one chapter to listen to and my mind may have been elsewhere.
But if my mind had wandered what does that say for the story?
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
The Broken Shore by Peter Temple is a above-average police procedural that had me engrossed for days. Joe Cashin, a Melbourne homicide detective has been assigned to the rural area in south-eastern Australia that he grew up in. He is recovering from injuries that were sustained while on the job.
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Now having to deal with constant pain is part of his life. Unfortunately, small-town doesn’t mean small crime as all too soon Joe finds himself involved in a murder investigation of a prominent local man.

The plot unfolds slowly but the style and sense of place were riveting. The author doles out information, letting the reader slowly put the facts together both on Joe’s back story and with the investigation. I have a feeling that this story with it’s racial tensions, corruption at various levels and such a dark view on humanity in general is one that would be familiar in many countries. The author also knew when to give the reader a break from such a bleak outlook and his use of humor was spot on. Of course, I just have to mention the two wonderful Standard Poodles that Joe has, these are not pampered show-dogs, but actual hunting hounds and it is very clear that this author knows not only dogs but this particular breed of dog.

I have checked and it appears that there is a further book set in this area, but it also appears that the main character in the next book is not Joe Cashin, but his immediate supervisor and friend who had a supporting role in The Broken Shore. I will definitely be looking for this book and keeping my fingers crossed that this author brings Joe Cashin back as I would really like to read more about him.
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LibraryThing member zmagic69
Wow great story but a tough book to get through. Many other reviews have said what I would about this book.
1. Considering Australians not only have slang for everything, use strange terms (for an American reader), and love to shorten words just for the sake of shortening them (servo= service
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station, para=paramedics), it is amazing someone didn't shorten this book.
2. At least one hundred pages could be removed from this book and not affect the central story line.
3. To many distractions (side stories) competing with the main story.
With all that being said it is a very good murder mystery, but it is a tough read, not only because of the Australian slang- which the glossary in the back of the book covers some, but not all of the foreign words, but the language is at time reminiscent of an Irvine Welsh book, with prolific use of the C word. Don't say you were not warned.
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Ned Kelly Award (Winner — Novel — 2006)
Martin Beck Award (Nominee — 2008)
Australian Book Industry Awards (Shortlist — General Fiction — 2006)
Miles Franklin Literary Award (Longlist — 2006)




0312427867 / 9780312427863
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