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April 16, 2009

Book Notes - Garry Disher ("Blood Moon")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published books.

Garry Disher's Blood Moon is a thriller, but in the classic sense. The tension in the book draws more from the characters' personal interactions than with gory situations. Disher stated in an interview that "crime fiction does give you the room to explore strain in the community," and he does just that in this well-written novel.

In his own words, here is Garry Disher's Book Notes essay for his novel, Blood Moon:

As Inspector Hal Challis and Sergeant Ellen Destry become lovers, Challis will take her to hear Texan singer/songwriter Chris Smither, who regularly visits Australia, playing in Melbourne pubs. If the gravel-voiced master sings the sly, driving love song, "Drive You Home Again", Challis' night will be complete.

Then Leonard Cohen tours Australia, singing some of his old favourites like "Suzanne" and "Bird on a Wire", but Challis hangs out for three songs from the album, The Future: the title song, "Closing Time" and "Waiting for the Miracle."

For her part, Ellen Destry will introduce Challis to Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy's haunting album, Adieu False Heart, with its shades of the bayous and the open road. The album will chime with Challis' tastes: he owns the Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris album, All The Roadrunning, and the Alison Krauss and Robert Plant album, Raising Sand. His younger colleagues might rib him, but he knows good music when he hears it.

They both have secret favourites, hauntingly beautiful songs that pick up on their sombre, sad and reflective moods. For Challis it's k. d. lang's version of Leonard Cohen's classic, "Hallelujah", and for Ellen it's two songs from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's FM radio collection, Swoon III -- the old Celtic prayer, "Deep Peace" by Bill Douglas and the Ars Nova Singers, and John Tavener's soaring "Song For Athene" (the Choir of King's College, Cambridge), which was sung at the funeral of Princess Diana (which means nothing to Ellen, she wants Australia to be a republic, she simply loves the song).

And because their parents came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, Challis and Destry have inherited a love for some of the classics of the era. Challis loves Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4", Canned Heat's "On the Road Again" and Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row". Ellen's tastes are a little sweeter: Elton John's "Your Song" and Rod Stewart's "Maggie May."

Finally, Ellen has a teenage daughter. Both Challis and Ellen find themselves listening to what the kids are listening to. They find a lot of it banal, but like Mika's "Grace Kelly", Dido's "White Flag", and anything by Angus and Julia Stone, Missy Higgins and Kasey Chambers.

Garry Disher and Blood Moon links:

publisher's page for the book

Armchair Interviews review
Library Journal review
Mystery Lovers Bookshop review
Publishers Weekly review

The Age profile of the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists

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