Between the Covers

Wyatt, the Enigma Returns

Garry Disher

After a 13-year absence from his Wyatt series Australian crime author Garry Disher brings his favourite criminal out of retirement with a bang.

Or, to be more accurate, lots and lots of bangs.

Wyatt, the Enigma Returns, is a fast-paced action crime novel where the hits just keep on coming.

Disher seems to prioritise action over story; the characters speed from one dangerous situation to the next, without much plot advancement.

It’s good writing with meticulous research and detail: if one of the characters is breaking into a house then it is written convincingly. There’s no doubt that both the writer and character know what they’re doing.

My main problem with this novel was that I found it difficult to empathise with any of the characters at all; they’re all pretty horrible and selfish, including the central character Wyatt, who is portrayed as an unemotional criminal genius with some sort of moral compass that I didn’t quite understand. The introduction of Lynette, a smart, capable woman, is obviously meant to introduce some sexual tension but it didn’t quite work, although I suspect she will feature more in the next instalment.

The other problem with an all-action book is that, unlike a really good thriller, the tension never develops; if you’re racing from one disaster to another then there’s no build-up. There’s also no ‘who-dun-it’ aspect because you know who done it, now it’s just a matter of who gets killed and who survives and because it’s a series you already know the answer to that as well.

Wyatt, the Enigma Returns isn’t a bad read; it was just a little unsatisfying because I felt the author was just going through the motions, but he understands what those motions are and carries it off because he’s a good writer. Had he perhaps spent a little more time on story then this would have been a book with more substance; as it is it’s not a bad book if you don’t want to think too hard and at least it’s in Australian English in an Australian landscape.

Books reviewed are available at the Book Warehouse in Keen Street, Lismore, and at Lismore Shopping Square.


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