Review - THE HEAT, Garry Disher
The 8th in the Wyatt series, the resurgence of the best unrepentant, unapologetic and very demanding professional crook in Australian Crime Fiction is something to be very pleased about.
Wyatt is not a man who plays well with others, and his danger radar is on high alert after he’s pulled into early planning of a heist by some rank amateurs. A move to Noosa and a commission to steal a particular painting comes at a time when absenting himself from Melbourne and all chance of being connected to that group is particularly welcome. Not only is the intended heist a nice little earner, he can return to his comfort zone, working on his own, minimal exposure with the commission coming via a broker he’s worked with before. Which means he’s not at all happy to find himself having to work with his broker’s niece. Needless to say that leads to complications.
Taciturn, meticulous and cautious, Wyatt has always been a lone wolf. Comfortable in his skin, surprisingly moral in his criminal endeavours, Wyatt will not screw people who play fair, but heaven help anybody who crosses him. Everything about him is understated and controlled, almost emotionless. Which makes some of the aspects of THE HEAT particularly intriguing as there’s some unexpected connections showing here, even a little human longing. Not something you’d ever expect from Wyatt, and yet, in Disher’s expert hands, beautifully executed.
The plot in THE HEAT takes full advantage of the wide range of connections building up around Wyatt. The supporting cast move in and out of focus, in and out of Wyatt’s orbit and into or straight out of favour depending upon who he believes can be trusted. It reads like a slightly more complicated plot than in earlier outings as a result of those connections, and it works really well. Of course, this is not a mystery as such, it’s an out and out heist novel with some thriller elements. There’s love, sex, danger, idiots, money, honour and some careful plotting and planning by Wyatt. It’s interesting to see the comparison between the “professional thief” Wyatt, and the more opportunistic motives of those who work against him. It’s also interesting to see his response when somebody with some similar personality traits to himself moves into his orbit.
Wyatt is, however straight from the tradition of the anti-hero. He’s one for fans of the outlaw, the man who is always one step ahead of the law, and one step outside of social norms. He’s a hard man but in THE HEAT, there is just that hint that the man in there might occasionally break out. It made this particular outing of one my all time favourite characters just that little bit more intriguing.
Wyatt needs a job. A bank job would be nice, or a security van hold-up. As long as he doesn’t have to work with cocky idiots and strung-out meth-heads like the Pepper brothers. That’s the sort of miscalculation that buys you the wrong kind of time. So he contacts a man who in the past put him on the right kind of heist. And finds himself in Noosa, stealing a painting for Hannah Sten. He knows how it’s done: case the premises, set up escape routes and failsafes, get in and get out with the goods unrecognised. Make a good plan; back it up with another. And be very, very careful. But who is his client? Who else wants that painting? Sometimes, being very careful is not enough.