- first published 2010
- #1 in the Charlie Berlin series
- Narrated by:
- Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook available at Audible
- earlier review
- Author website
In 1947, two years after witnessing the death of a young Jewish woman in Poland, Charlie Berlin has rejoined the police force a different man. Sent to investigate a spate of robberies in rural Victoria, he soon discovers that World War II has changed even the most ordinary of places and people. When Berlin travels to Albury-Wodonga to track down the gang behind the robberies, he suspects he's a problem cop being set up to fail.
Taking a room at the Diggers Rest Hotel in Wodonga, he sets about solving a case that no one else can - with the help of feisty, ambitious journalist Rebecca Green and rookie constable Rob Roberts, the only cop in town he can trust. Then the decapitated body of a young girl turns up in a back alley, and Berlin's investigations lead him ever further through layers of small-town fears, secrets and despair.The first Charlie Berlin mystery takes us into a world of secret alliances and loyalties - and a society dealing with the effects of a war that changed men forever.
I first read this novel long enough ago for me to have forgotten the finer plot details. Peter Byrne's narration is solidly done, but it is the author's detailed descriptions that place the reader firmly in post-war rural Victoria. McGeachin takes great pains to mention items and events which put us just after World War II.
In some ways Charlie Berlin is still suffering post-war trauma - events from his experience as a P.O.W. and as a bomber pilot keep sending him reminders. Wodonga is a country town still on war alert even thought the war is long over - a squad of local militia still train "just in case" and there are plenty of reminders of the war, including an army camp or two full of discarded weaponry, tanks, trucks and other vehicles.
But they are not the problem - a bunch of armed Harley Davidson riders is - they conduct raids on banks and other places holding money. The latest is the Wodonga Post office, although this is the first one where someone has been hurt. Charlie Berlin is sent up from Melbourne to find out what is happening, but no-one expects him to succeed.
An excellent read, whether you tackle the audio book or a printed copy. And the start of an award winning Australian series. See below for the list of titles so far.
My rating: 4.8
4.8, THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL
4.9, BLACKWATTLE CREEK
4.9, ST KILDA BLUES