Review - Four Days, Iain Ryan

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

Short, sharp and to the point, FOUR DAYS delivers deepest and darkest noir in the unlikely setting of 1980’s Brisbane and Cairns. In the Sunshine State corruption is rife and nowhere more so than in the police force and the licensing department in particular. 

Lone wolf Detective Jim Harris isn’t exactly lily-white himself, with a complicated backstory of illicit love affairs and drug use, to say nothing of family relationships that would challenge most genealogy software. He is, however, seemingly the only cop dedicated enough to pursue the truth behind the death of a prostitute and the disappearance of a young policeman. 

All of which reads like the ideal recipe for a noir styled short novel, but FOUR DAYS is something more than just a formulaic run through of required elements. Written in a sparse, pointed, slightly ironic style it seamlessly folds a quintessentially Australian sensibility and location into a sub-genre that’s more synonymous with the mean streets of the US. Whilst setting and sense of place are marginally less important than character and motivation in this story, they provide a enough as commentary on sleepy, hot seaside paradises which are really rotten to the core. It is, however, the character studies that really stand out. The miniscule line between good and bad, the anti-hero, the dissolute, the lost with something left to prove.

As expected, the violence is extreme, and the drug-taking and sex scenes vivid and unflinching, avoiding voyeurism by sheer pace, never dwelling. FOUR DAYS isn’t supposed to be comfort reading, it may make readers squirm and it may even shock, but if that sort of approach is fine with them, it will definitely keep them reading.

Year of Publication

BRISBANE, 1984. Jim Harris is a hard-drinking Australian detective on his way to a nervous breakdown. Every day, he works alongside corrupt cops and dangerous crooks. That is, until a brutal murder case unravels his career, bringing past indiscretions to light. Alone, afraid, and out of control, Harris makes a pact with himself: Four days to locate the killer. Four days to take revenge. Four days to find redemption.

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