Fresh Blood

Name: Adrian Hyland

Title of Book: Diamond Dove

'Ö a very convincing portrayal of a restless and defiant young women'

Emily Tempest returns from travels abroad, unclear about her direction in life. One thing she does know is that Moonlight Downs in Central Australia - and her aboriginal background - has been pulling her back for some time. However, Emilyís return to the community in which she grew up goes badly from the start. It is not only Emily who has changed. The effects of poverty, too much alcohol and the scorn of the local white town have all taken their toll on the old community.

Emilyís position in aborigine life was always shaky, her father is white and she was sent away in disgrace as a teenager for gate crashing a sacred ceremony. But when a childhood friend and mentor is murdered, it is only Emily who seems to be asking awkward questions as to who is the likely culprit. This tenacious approach causes problems, not only for members of the community, but soon brings Emily herself into danger.

This is a fascinating thriller set in the heart of the Australian outback. The descriptions of a modern day aboriginal community are both fascinating and shaming. Fascinating, because the author has a clear grasp of the rootless nature of the way of life and the poverty of the existence. But the book is also shaming because it shows the racism inherent in this remote part of Australia. The nearby town, equally poverty-stricken, with violence at its core, not only shuns the aboriginal community, but is also a key element in depriving it of its lands.

The book is extremely well written with extensive use of the local dialect never detracting from the story. The review copy that I read gave an introduction to the Northern Territory and also a useful glossary to some of the aboriginal words used in the book. It did not, however, give any information about the author. This is a shame. Adrian Hyland not only writes extremely well about the Australian outback, he also gives a very convincing portrayal of a restless and defiant young women who finds some solace in her relationship with a childhood (female) friend.

Both the depiction of Emily and her relationship with her friend, Hazel, are skilfully woven into the plot so it is no surprise that both are key characters at the denouement. A very good read, whether you are familiar with this world or not.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) As it slowly evolves and increases in popularity, crime fiction seems to be organically sub-dividing into a number of widely diverse categories. Which genre (or sub-genre, evenÖ) of crime novel would you say you write in?
Individual genres Ė tartan noir, historical whodunit, police procedural, serial killer, lesbian pulp - donít mean much to me. Thereís just good writing and bad writing.

Maybe I could start a new one. Nothing noir - my book certainly isnít that. How about Indigenous clair? Iím sure Emily Tempest would welcome Miss Smilla and Mma Ramotswe with open arms.
2) What type of crime novels do you like to read? Do you prefer series or standalone?
I think in terms of authors rather than types - there are standalones that I wish had siblings, and series which Iíve never made it past the opening paragraph.
3) Where did the character of Emily Tempest come from? Did you have a particular person in mind when you were developing her character in the book?
Certainly no single individual, but I knew dozens of women like her - fiery, funny, smart, fiercely protective of their family and their culture - in the years I spent working in Aboriginal communities.
4) Have you had any feedback about your book from the Aboriginal community?
Only from individuals - often friends - whoíve been pleased to see their culture reflected in a positive light.
5) Is there a big crime fiction scene in Australia?
Some of the most powerful writing emerging from our culture is in the crime field. Michael Robotham, Gary Disher, Kel Robertson, Angela Savage, Barry Maitland, Marshall Browne. The twin peaks are Peter Temple - is there a better writer at work today? And Shane Maloney - is there anybody funnier?
6) Do you have any more plans for future books featuring Emily Tempest?
Yep. Another oneís on the way. God knows when. The last one took me fifty years to write, so at that rate the next one should be finished in 2057.
7) Without giving away the plot, which book - yours or by another author - included your favourite plot twist of all time?
Had to really think about this question, which tells me something about my own tastes: the thing that means most to me is the quality of the writing. Plot is only a very small part of that. When I think back on Chandler, for example, itís individual phrases Ė ďshe gave him a look that stuck six inches out of his backĒ - that come to mind.

If I have to nominate something, though, letís go for a classic. I grew up on Sherlock Holmes: how about "The Adventure of the Speckled BandĒ, which scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid?

Among contemporary writers, Stuart MacBride and Michael Robotham have come up with beauties: try "Granite City" and "The Suspect".
8) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
Iím not that into movies; so often I leave the cinema feeling disappointed: the illusion of the screen fails to match the reality of my imagination.

Once again, though, if I have to nominate something, letís go for a classic: Bogey as Marlowe; he didnít seem to take himself too seriously.

LA Confidential worked both as book and film. Was Witness a book? Certainly a wonderful film.
9) Would you describe yourself as a crime fiction fan in general and, if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
Iím a fan of all forms of good writing, from poetry to crime (in the hands of a master like Ken Bruen or Peter Temple, the genres coalesce).

The crime writers I admire include Bruen and Temple, Shane Maloney, Stuart MacBride, Reginald Hill, Kinky Friedman, Raymond Chandler and Kate Atkinson.

Why? I recall a quote from Chandler Ė something along the lines of: there are writers who write stories and there are writers who write writing. Clearly he saw himself in the latter category, and I suspect the other writers on my list would too.
10) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
Strewth! What a question!

In the Favourite Character Stakes the winner for me is Andy Dalziel, a short belly button ahead of Bruenís Brant. I love both of those fat bastards.

Favourite crime read? Letís go back to the ur-crime writer. When I was a recalcitrant eleven year old at a scungy school in working class Melbourne I was given - as punishment - the job of unpacking boxes of second-hand books donated to the library by well-meaning people keen to keep the proles from revolting. I came across an ancient edition of Sherlock Holmes - which I promptly stole, and which kept me entranced one long, hot summer. So I started out as a criminal, and itís been all downhill from there.

Chandler holds a special place in my heart. I first came across him in the middle of the Central Australian desert, which may be why I ended up setting a crime novel there years later.