Signal Loss

Garry Disher (Kickback; Whispering Death) skillfully showcases Mornington Peninsula, near Melbourne, Australia, in Signal Loss, the seventh in his Inspector Hal Challis series. Challis is investigating a pair of bodies in a burned-out Mercedes, as well as a meth dealer named Owen Valentine who seems to have gone missing. Meanwhile Sergeant Ellen Destry, Challis's significant other and the newly promoted head of the Sex Crimes Unit, is frantically trying to track down a serial rapist before he strikes again.

Challis's team ends up scouring the Peninsula's small towns and suspected meth factories in search of Valentine, especially after they discover that his stepdaughter is also missing. And the pair of bodies leads in a compelling direction when a rifle in the backseat is identified.

Things get more complicated for both Destry and Challis when the big guns from Melbourne's drug squad show up, muscling in on their respective investigations. But the police officers from all three teams will have to work together in order to quell the chaos breaking out across the Peninsula.

With striking imagery and nuanced characters, Signal Loss is a fast-paced thriller. Disher's vivid prose captures small-town Australia, and he skillfully interweaves three police investigations into an intriguing whole. The setting may be unfamiliar for most American readers, but they are sure to recognize the excellence of the mystery. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson

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