Police whistle-blower and former detective superintendent Frank Swann is back in David Whish-Wilson’s latest novel Zero at the Bone. Now that Swann is outside the police force, he’s able to see with fresh eyes the corruption within Western Australian law enforcement, politics and the mining industry.
All this is brought into sharp focus when, in 1979, he’s hired to investigate the supposed suicide of a renowned geologist and finds himself drawn into an intrigue of iniquity, swindling and greed.
Whish-Wilson brings to life the Western Australian mining boom and his tale proves to be a decent and definitely readable affair.
Its dignified style releases the story almost reluctantly, and protagonist Swann is cookie-cutter flawed and soft-boiled in many respects. In some ways, the narrative is manipulative and sermonising, but Zero at the Bone is redeemed by a precise reproduction of Perth during the period and the undeniable authenticity of the events it depicts during the mining boom.
Although this is only the second book in the Swann series, there is a good deal to admire and enjoy in both earlier effort Line of Sight and Zero to the Bone; they have all the bells and whistles one could want in contemporary crime fiction.
Zero at the Bone, by David Whish-Wilson, is published by Viking, rrp $29.99.