Pufferfish, aka Detective Inspector Franz Heineken, scourge of Tasmania's villains, is back. And back with a seriously refreshed vengeance. Pufferfish, prickly, curmudgeonly and irony-charged as ever, is attracted to an unusual stench in his island paradise: a badly decomposed corpse with no name, identity altered prior to execution, victim of a puzzling mix of professionalism and panic.
Four Pufferfish novels were never ever going to be enough for dedicated fans of this wonderful, quirky Police Procedural from Tasmanian based author David Owen. There was always a real sense of disappointment that Owen didn't appear to have been given the opportunity to publish more of these books (or at least I believe that's what happened).
The sight of NO WEATHER FOR A BURIAL was therefore a cause of much excitement in these parts - and a mad scramble to the publishers website (you can buy your own copy direct from http://www.fortysouth.com.au). Now is it worth your while? Yes. In a word.
Pufferfish has been on long service leave, and he returns to a couple of very unusual cases in Hobart and environs. The disappearance of the wife of a well known local academic is ticking away quietly in the background, searches for her having so far proven fruitless. But attention is immediately distracted when a corpse is discovered, buried in an unusual manner, with no identification and the distinct possibility that his appearance had been recently altered. The case leads Pufferfish into the murky waters of Outlaw Motorcycle Groups, organised crime, and just a little recent Tasmanian history.
One of the things that you must like to enjoy these books is a sparse, sly, tinder-dry wit. Pufferfish is very fond of the aside, and a sort of internal monologue, mostly about himself which can be highly amusing, and is undoubtedly as dry as dry can be. NO WEATHER FOR A BURIAL takes up with the team, his colleague (and very private lover) Hedda, Walter his odious boss and just about the entire cast from the earlier books. It continues the story of Pufferfish with the lag between books nicely wrapped up in a spot of long service leave. But aside from the great characterisation of Pufferfish, there's a really good mystery to this story of the corpse. Step one - find out who he is. Step two - find out why he is in Tasmania. Step three - work out where he came from and who he knows. Step four - chase the bad guys and round them up. Simple. Unless you've got the wrong suspect locked up because your boss wants a quick resolution and step three gets a bit tricky. Oh, and there's nothing like a touch of the serendipity and more than a hefty dose of the nothing gets past him to allow Pufferfish to tidy up the missing person case on the way through!
It's like Detective Inspector Franz Heineken never ever went away. I hope he comes back again soon. We've missed him.