Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

It's just so heartening to know that the Pufferfish Series lives on that it's difficult to remain objective about the latest book.  HOW THE DEAD SEE is the second of the re-emergence of David Owen's much loved, acerbic, dry, funny, dark and quite prickly Detective Inspector Franz Heineken.  

There are some things that never change in these books - Pufferfish (his nickname is a direct correlation between Heineken's prickly, dangerous, lurking personality and that of the fish in question), is, as always, dry, prickly, and acerbic, with the addition of being quietly and pointedly determined to see the crooks go down.  The crimes are always nicely balanced - in this case the supposed suicide of local boy made big-time Hollywood movie star (before he went downhill), and the theft of very valuable jewellery from another location altogether.  Both crimes that Pufferfish and his team, in a small force like the Tasmanian Police Force, have to juggle simultaneously.  Along the way they manage the priorities of stakeouts in less salubrious parts with the wealth and weirdness of those that circle even a falling Hollywood star.

All of the Pufferfish series are told in first-person, straight from the mouth of Pufferfish.  His observations, his thoughts, his voice is therefore central to the books, and the irony and sarcasm often drip almost visually from the words on the page.  Everybody is a target for his baleful eye - even himself.  Nobody avoids Pufferfish scrutiny, nobody is forgotten (much to the chagrin of the old Tasmania crim collective), nothing is ever missed.   It's not just the sarcasm that's visual, there's an image of Pufferfish that builds up as you read these books - you can see the man, you can hear him mutter, you can feel how skewering that gaze would be.  And the books are funny.  Maybe not laugh out loud funny, but you can't help but smile, you can't help but feel a snigger at some points.  You can't help but almost feel sorry for the poor hapless fools that think they can go up against Detective Inspector Franz Heineken and not come out just a little bit burned.

The ongoing life of the Pufferfish series is a thing of great joy.  David Owen created a fabulous character all those years ago, and HOW THE DEAD SEE is the latest in some terrific books.  

You can purchase this and the earlier book in the re-emerged series NO WEATHER FOR A BURIAL direct from

Year of Publication

The theft of a valuable diamond necklace, and the death by apparent suicide of a notorious film star, have nothing in common. Nothing except Detective Franz Heineken, aka Pufferfish, scourge of an island’s villains and a deadly match for it unpredictable, unsettling crimes.

At the tail end of an oppressively hot Tasmanian summer, Pufferfish is called upon to investigate a death that looks like a suicide and small like suicide. But Rory Stillrock, once a big screen Hollywood bad boy - popular celluloid CIA agent real life party animal and sex addict - had good reason to live. His hidden southern Tasmanian mansion, and those who were closest to him and his wealth, slowly, reluctantly, begin to offer up clues. Not that Pufferfish is in a hurry...

Meanwhile he knows very well who nicked the diamond necklace valued at over two hundred thousand dollars, from a stately Hobart home. Just a small matter of proving same. Not easy when you’re up against Fink Mountgarrett, master thief with a very soft footprint. But the patient task becomes incendiary when Fink falls foul of the island’s controversial new mandatory sentencing laws. Was he set up? Surely Pufferfish wouldn’t stoop so low...

Review HOW THE DEAD SEE - David Owen
Karen Chisholm
Monday, September 12, 2011
Blog Currently Reading - How the Dead See, David Owen
Karen Chisholm
Monday, August 1, 2011

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