“After the Flood” is an interesting Australian crime story from experienced writer Dave
It’s very similar in tone to Warner’s earlier novels, and is a low-key but absorbing depiction of a complex investigation in a remote part of Australia.
In Broome it’s been a while since Detective Inspector Dan Clement had a particularly difficult or interesting case. He’s half hankering after the challenge, and half relieved that nothing too bad is going on in the region.
Almost as soon as he thinks this, of course, he finds himself faced with the death of an anonymous young man who’s been crucified and then run over with a vehicle. It’s a kind of death he’s never seen before.
That’s not the only thing on Clement’s plate. His team were already looking into vandalism at the Child Health Clinic, and an unrelated theft of explosives from a mining company.
However, it eventually seems that there might be links between these very different crimes…
I found this low key because it lacks the dramatics that some crime novels go in for; there wasn’t a cliffhanger or crisis every few chapters. Instead, it builds momentum so that the tension really takes hold in the last third of the novel, until it reaches the climax.
It’s almost understated in the early chapters. That heightens the sense of realism, though; surely a real investigation would involve a great deal of routine and even some boring work. This even, low key tone is something I think of as a hallmark of Warner’s writing.
It’s a little unusual for crime novels, but it works very well. The end result is a novel that feels like it sits between a crime novel and a literary novel.
It was only after I finished “After the Flood” that I realised it is the third novel featuring Dan Clement. It wasn’t obvious, and didn’t impinge at all on my enjoyment. Characterization is strong, there wasn’t a sense of big gaps in the background, and the story was easy to follow.
No doubt there would be benefits to reading the earlier novels – mostly, I suspect, in developing the relationships between the team members or in the plot strand that looks at Dan’s personal life. However, it was no problem at all picking this up cold.
I enjoyed this a lot. It’s a relatively short novel, and despite the low key tone, it packs quite a
punch in that time. The red herrings are excellent, and few readers will completely work out
what’s going on until Warner decides it’s time to reveal all.
It bounces between characters in a way that manages to be both illuminating and subtly misleading, depending on Warner’s intent.
I’d recommend this to most crime readers, but particularly those who want tension and a puzzle with high stakes, while steering clear of a sensationalist writing style. This is a really satisfying read: a well constructed plot, a well drawn setting, and strong characters.
ISBN: 9781760 991012
Copy courtesy of Fremantle Press (2022)
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading After the Flood by Dave
Warner. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I love sharing that joy.
I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, across all genres. There’s not much I won’t at least try. I’ve been an enthusiastic book reviewer for years. I particularly enjoy discovering writers new to me, and sharing good writing with others.
My career has included time spent writing and editing technical documents, but it’s fiction that really moves me. I’ve reviewed for a number of different outlets over the years, and have been a judge in literary competitions.
I’m now raising little bookworms of my own, which brings a whole new kind of joy to sharing books.
More of my reviews can be found on my review blog www.otherdreamsotherlives.home.blog .