Review - Detective Work, John Dale

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

It's been a bit of a wait for the arrival of what seems to be the first crime fiction novel, DETECTIVE WORK from Australian author John Dale. Well enough worth the wait to wonder why it's taken so long, and to certainly hope that it's the beginning of a new series.

There's nothing about DETECTIVE WORK that reads like a debut at all. A police procedural in form, the novel packs a punch on all fronts - plot, character and style. Set around the now well-known area of Cold Crimes, Dimitri Telegonus is the new kid on the bloke, recently promoted, paired with your classic old, bitter, cynical, filling in time style cop. A cliché that runs the risk of being decidedly formulaic, although this outing is written with a wonderful sense of humour and fun which lifts the working relationship out of the predicted, into something realistic and involving.

The pressure from on high to get results is yet again another well-worked scenario, but way that Telegonus reacts to the possibility of a job move is elegantly portrayed - shoving yet another potential been-there-done-that moment to the side well and truly. 

What really works in this novel is the characterisations. One new to the job, sincere, dedicated, hard working and incredibly naive. The other old, tired, disinterested and unmotivated play off each other really well. There is energy and vitality to the way that the relationship plays out, with very entertaining storytelling to boot. The sense of humour is fabulous, the dry observations, comments and wits part of the attraction. The plot of cold case scenarios is well drawn and the links between the past and the present believable and easy to follow.

There's so much potential in this novel that you really cannot help but hope it's either the beginning of a good new Australian series, or at least the heralding of yet more crime fiction from John Dale.

Year of Publication
Book Number (in series)

When Dimitri Telegonus is promoted to the Serious Unsolved Crime Unit to investigate the disappearance of a beautiful blonde escort, he thinks he’s finally made the big time. He’d always wanted to do detective work; thought it was his destiny.

But things quickly start to unravel. His assigned partner is an uninterested dinosaur and when progress in the investigation is slow, the bosses threaten to pull the plug.

Desperate to crack his first cold case, Dimitri tracks the prime suspect down – only to find there are forces at play a naïve young detective will never fully understand.

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