23 January 2012

Review: THE BROTHERHOOD, Y.A. Erskine

  • Published Bantam, Random House 2011
  • ISBN 978-1-74275-015-6
  • 379 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Booktopia)

One dead cop, one small island and an impact that will last a lifetime.

When Sergeant John White, mentor, saviour and all-round good guy, is murdered during a routine call-out, the tight-knit world of Tasmania Police is rocked to the core.

An already difficult investigation into the death of one of their own becomes steeped in political complexities when the main suspect is identified as Aboriginal and the case, courtesy of the ever-hostile local media, looks set to make Palm Island resemble a Sunday afternoon picnic in comparison. And as the investigation unfolds through the eyes of the sergeant's colleagues, friends, family, enemies and the suspect himself, it becomes clear that there was a great deal more to John White - and the squeaky-clean reputation of the nation's smallest state police service - than ever met the eye.

The Brotherhood is a novel about violence, preconceptions, loyalties, corruption, betrayal and the question a copper should never need to ask: just who can you trust?

About the Author

Y.A. Erskine spent eleven years in the Tasmania Police Service. She was active in front-line policing and served as a detective in the CIB. She is also an historian with an honours degree in early modern history. Y.A. Erskine lives in Melbourne and is happily married with two dogs. 

My take

Hobart, small city, big town, capital of Tasmania. TASPol, a small police force where everyone knows everyone else personally, working out of Hobart, in a state where about a third of the population gets some sort of government assistance, and another quarter works for the government.

I loved the innovative structure of this book. It reminded me of clock solitaire. The story is carefully layered. We start with a hook. The officer in charge of the investigation into the death of a fellow police officer is going through the deceased's possessions and finds some items that puzzle the reader but for the investigator seem to have only one interpretation.

And then the reader is dealt a series of "cards", the story as seen by a range of connected participants. We learn who the police officer was and how he was killed and through each chapter we see him through the eyes of another. Each chapter adds a layer to our knowledge until eventually we come back to where the book started.

And interlaced into the story are various strands: an Aboriginal population, the remnants of Australia's original inhabitants, now welfare dependent, and in some cases only too willing to cry victimisation and brutality; an under resourced police force with more than usual difficulties in recruiting and retaining good officers; corruption in all professions, even among those responsible for managing the legal system; and an island state with significant social prejudices. It's a heady mix.

THE BROTHERHOOD is certainly an Australian police procedural with a difference and worthy of attention.

My rating: 5.0

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kathy d. said...

What a great recommendation.

I have this book on the top of my TBR pile. It was a holiday gift, which I requested, and so glad that I did.

Now, for the Global Book Challenge, is Tasmania considered part of Australia, or is it considered a separate state, as for instance, Canada and the U.S. are part of North America.

Maxine Clarke said...

I thought this book was great, too. I have a review written and scheduled. It was not cheap to buy over here (UK) but worth every penny!

Kerrie said...

Tasmania is part of Australia Kathy, but you can count each state separately in the GRC if you want to

Glad you enjoyed it Maxine

kathy d. said...

Thanks, Kerrie. That's what I wanted to know.

For the U.S., I do not count each separate state in which a book is placed, just the country as a whole.

I may do this with Tasmania, as you suggest, but I realize that I'll be reading a lot of books by women authors from Oz. So I'll be fine with my total from Australia.

Vanda Symon said...

Sounds teriffic, I'll have to try and track it down.

Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews said...

I love mysteries that unfold in that way - sounds great.


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