About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gunshot Road by Adrian Hyland

32. - 591.) Gunshot Road by Adrian Hyland – Emily Tempest is a force of nature in the vast Northern Territory of Australia. Half aborigine she has an outsize attitude and personality. Her language is salty. She speaks her mind on any subject. She prizes her independence and is insatiably curious. Emily is the classic hard boiled detective. Her personality is far different from the quiet Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte of Arthur Upton.

As she starts her career as an ACPC (Aboriginal Community Police Officer) with the Bluebush police detachment there is a call from the Green Swamp Well Roadhouse of a murder. Elderly geologist / prospector / philosopher, Doc Ozolins, has been killed by a pickaxe still lodged in his throat. The night before he had been fighting with an equally aged prospecting companion, Wireless. With Wireless asleep in the cabin with the deceased and no other suspects it is no surprise Wireless is arrested.

Expected to stay docile while the guys do the investigating Em is not backing down from any man or group of men. Emily, doubting Wireless is guilty, sets out to investigate the death. Being a hard boiled detective has costs. Hyland does not flinch from the consequences of Emily’s actions.

The investigation veers between the primitive bush camps of aborigine mobs, the barely less primitive urban aborigine camps and the comfortable white population.

Hyland sets out the bias and prejudice of the white population to the aborigine people. Dark in colour Emily is far closer to her aboriginal heritage. She does not appear to realize she equally stereotypes and has a strong judgmental attitude with regard to white people.

In common with other remote areas of the world the weather dominates life. In the Northern Territory it is searing heat that occupies the residents. All decisions must take into account the extreme temperatures.

It was striking how people explode in the hot nights. In most of Canada the extreme temperatures are cold with nights being the coldest. There is less violence on cold Canadian winter nights. Freezing dampens alcohol fuelled tempers. It is just too cold to fight outside.

The book delves into aboriginal life with their traditions and connections with the land working well in the story. I did miss their bush craft not playing a significant role in the story

I found myself comparing Hyland’s depiction of contemporary life, especially aboriginal life, with life 60 years ago in the same areas of Australia in the Bony books . Hyland provides wonderful word pictures of the harsh demanding land. There has been no improvement in lifestyle for the aboriginal people. If anything, there has been deterioration. Moving away from their traditional lives has not gone well for the aboriginal people portrayed by Hyland.

I enjoyed the book. Emily is a remarkable character. Unfortunately, I did not like the ending. To say more would be a spoiler. If someone has read the book I would be glad to exchange views by email on my reasons. I will read more of Emily Tempest. (June 13/11)


  1. Bill - Thanks for this review. I'm glad you brought up the effect of that heat and the climate. Hyland does a very effective job, I think, of sharing life in the Outback with readers. And I like Emily Tempest's character, warts and all. She's not perfect, but in ways that makes her all the more appealing. And the mystery here is, in my opinion, interesting and a good "fit" for the backdrop and context.

  2. I read this one recently and enjoyed the setting and the character of Emily quite a lot. But how embarrassing; I have already forgotten the ending. (Very typical, I´m afraid, but it explains why I enjoy re-reading books ;D)

  3. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Emily is a vivid character. I am keeping an eye out for the first in the series. I have never experienced the heat described in the book. I think I cope better with -40 C weather than +40 C temperatures.

    Dorte: Thanks for the comment. I would not want to be tested on the endings of the books I have read in the past year. I also remember more about characters and themes than endings.

  4. Bill will appreciate if you can mail me your thoughts about the ending since I've already read this book at jiescribano at hotmail dot com.