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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Peter Temple

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To purchase Truth

Title: Truth
Author: Peter Temple
Genre: Novel
Written: 2009
Length: 380 pages
Availability: Truth - US
Truth - UK
Truth - Canada
Wahrheit - Deutschland
  • Miles Franklin Literary Award, 2010

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Our Assessment:

B+ : relentless

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Australian A 17/10/2009 Stephen Romei
FAZ . 13/5/2011 Hannes Hintermeier
The Guardian . 16/1/2010 John O'Connell
The Independent . 13/1/2010 Barry Forshaw
The Observer B+ 10/1/2010 Edmund Gordon
Sunday Times A 28/3/2010 John Dugdale
The Times . 2/1/2010 Marcel Berlins
TLS . 22/1/2010 Sean O'Brien

  From the Reviews:
  • "This is why Temple's work is so satisfying: the writing is diamond hard and clear, the pages demand to be turned, and he comes near the truth of things that matter. Not that his characters would use that word, truth. Justice, maybe. (...) Temple's many fans will need no encouragement to read this book. If you are yet to join them, don't wait any longer." - Stephen Romei, The Australian

  • "Das komplizierte Erzählgeflecht ist der vorläufige Höhepunkt in Peter Temples Werk. (...) Technisch ist der Reduktionist schon in der Nähe von William Gaddis, in der rissigen Lakonie erinnert er an den besten Stellen an J. M. Coetzees Schande." - Hannes Hintermeier, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Truth is about family and morality, city and countryside, private dilemmas and public responsibilities. It's also a stunning piece of psychological portraiture." - John O'Connell, The Guardian

  • "In Truth, Temple's conflicted, self-destructive protagonist is set down in a mordant evocation of a city in crisis. In fact, Villani's divided soul is presented (in understated fashion) as a metaphor for the society in which he lives, with the capacity for organic regeneration as elusive for the city as for the man. Temple's award-winning The Broken Shore was good; this is better." - Barry Forshaw, The Independent

  • "The book's major theme is corruption, personal and political. Temple puts old-fashioned abstract values into conflict with a bleak vision of modern reality, and the result is consistently arresting. (...) But despite these great accomplishments, the novel prevents itself from escaping the pigeonhole of genre fiction because of its unrelenting ugliness of vision." - Edmund Gordon, The Observer

  • "All this is deftly knitted together, but itís the fierce energy of Templeís writing that is the bookís outstanding feature -- the dialogue and linking prose almost vie to outdo each other in brilliance." - John Dugdale, Sunday Times

  • "Villani is interesting, deeper and more complex than most fictional cops. If not quite in the same league as The Broken Shore, this is a thoughtful, intelligent novel. Itís a more demanding read than most in the genre, but worth the effort" - Marcel Berlins, The Times

  • "Temple writes with great intensity (.....) The language is rich and terse (.....) For all this, it seems as if there is another book that Temple would prefer to have written, one about the relation between father and son as the bush fires close in on the family farm the old man has refused to leave." - Sean O'Brien, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Truth is nearly four hundred pages long, but it's all fast-paced -- short chapters dominated by curt, clipped dialogue, scenes set in a few words and the tightest of sentences.
       The central figure is Inspector Stephen Villani, head of homicide in Melbourne, who is juggling professional and personal obligations. There are several murders to contend with, beginning with one in an ultra-fancy apartment building whose managers and owners aren't in the least helpful in providing access or information.
       Villani's personal life is also a disaster: he's estranged from his wife, and while the eldest daughter is a good girl, the younger, Lizzie, just fifteen, is already: "A teenage druggy who didn't give a shit about her family". There's also Villani's dad, an independent man who fought in Vietnam and is now getting on in years; their relationship is complicated too, with the father only grudgingly accepting the son's attempts to help out.
       Truth shifts back and forth between the personal and the professional in what seems like a constant series of frustrations. Things go wrong, and then even more wrong -- runaway Lizzy is found but not brought home, some bad guys get away but the cops are on their tails, until they're not -- often in entirely (or shockingly) unexpected ways.
       In a way, Truth is a step-by-step police procedural, except the steps tend to be small (and very many -- a rapid-fire shuffle, with the occasional leap), and the trails that, if not outright wrong wind up not being entirely right, are many. The build-up certainly doesn't feel like a traditional thriller, the presentation staccato not just in language but plot. There's a bigger picture here, but the constant machine-gun spray of narrative can make it difficult to come to grips with.
       Truth is a powerful novel, with the relentless narrative both exhilarating and exhausting -- and, occasionally, tiresome. This is impressive writing, but also in the service of a bleak, bleak worldview. Temple warns early on about Villani's move, years earlier, from Robbery to this division: "Homicide ate you, your family got the tooth-scarred bone", and by now Villani has indeed been chewed up if not quite spit out by his job.

- M.A.Orthofer, 16 June 2011

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Truth: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Australian author Peter Temple was born in 1946.

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© 2011-2021 the complete review

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