Review - Romeo's Gun, David Owen
Hate it when a new book from a much loved series lingers too long on the reading pile simply because of competing priorities. No disrespect intended at all in how long it took me to get to this entry, and much pleasure when I finally did. Anyway they come, I'm quite a fan of the Pufferfish books.
For readers unaware of the Pufferfish series, Detective Inspector Franz Heineken is a gruff, grumbling bear of a man wont to stalk the mean streets of Tasmania with a glare and a stare for anybody who steps outside the bounds of propriety. His very particular brand of propriety.
Which means that the mere disappearance of a toffy sommelier after what's obviously been a violent confrontation in the lounge of his rented house in Hobart is as offensive to the great man as is the attempted attack on a young woman, connected in more than one way to a murderer he wasn't able to catch. Add to that the imposition of a bunch of toe-cutting, restructurers straight out of the Emerald City infesting his police station with their management speak, and an agenda of cost cutting that's making him particularly annoyed, not just because the only high-up in the organisation he has any time for at all is looking like he might be for the chop.
If you are new to this series ROMEO'S GUN may leave you wondering what the point is - there's a level of put-upon-ness that's particularly ramped up here, although to be fair, it's a big part of the entire series. These are tongue-firmly-in-cheek novels about policing, being a bit of a grumpy bugger, and a put upon character forced to endure the indignities of dealing with upper-management, crooks, civilians, other police forces, and the general bother of having to cope with people who refuse to see things from the Pufferfish point of view.
ROMEO'S GUN does wander down some highways and byways, and it narrates those in a typical dry sarcastic drawl. It will take you around the back for a good look at the dark side, it'll drag you kicking and screaming into the high and low life and it'll do it in a round-about, frequently long-winded, more often than not laugh inducing way. As long as you're prepared to relax into the series, take Pufferfish at his best and worst, and deal with anybody who thinks drinking espresso coffee around a liquorice allsort is normal behaviour.
One year on and Pufferfish - aka Detective Inspector Franz Heineken - remains haunted by his failure to apprehend the killer of a young Hobart woman. Every time he sees a merchant vessel leaving the city's port he thinks of Angie, because that's how her murderer escaped. And that merchant seaman may still be coming and going with impunity, waiting for another opportunity.