And every favour has its price
Paid not in coin
But in flesh
Slice by slice
Sometimes a favourite novel by a much loved author isn’t their best, welcome to my latest Summer Favourites review, Peter Temple’s An Iron Rose. If you were to ask the question ‘which novel is Peter Temple’s best?’ then most would answer A Broken Shore or Truth. If I was to choose I’d say A Broken Shore, just, but neither are my favourite Temple, mine is his second novel An Iron Rose, a novel which I’ve read almost yearly since I purchased my Text Classic edition in 2012.
An Iron Rose begins with a phone call in the middle of the night, Mac Faraday’s friend, Ned Lowry, has been found hanging in the shed by his grandson Lew. In those early sentences Peter Temple sets the taut, sparse tone of the novel, best described as Effortless Style the title of Les Carlyon’s excellent introduction. Mac’s not just a blacksmith in a small country town, he has a past, one which he’d prefer not to visit but is prepared just in case. This is established early on by this interaction between Mac and the Detective Sergeant Shea who’s investigating Ned Lowry’s hanging.
‘Firearm on the premises.’
‘.38 Colt Python.’
I nodded again.
I savoured the moment. ‘Special permit.’
‘Special permit. That’s for what reason?’
I said, ‘See if they’ll tell you Detective Sergeant.’
As Mac investigates Ned’s past he’ll soon find that it he who has to visit his past..
A great novel for me isn’t just the main story, the small parts which fill in the gaps around the main story are also vital for a novel to succeed. The pub opposite the lane, the blacksmithing, the Brockley Football Club games and the garden restoration all add to An Iron Rose. Relationships and characters are also important with a great cast of locals, most notably DS Shea, who’s not a one dimensional character and Mac's namelees dog. In conclusion, An Iron Rose is a most enjoyable read and if A Broken Shore and Truth were Peter Temple’s virtuoso performances, then An Iron Rose is a helluva first jam session.
Postscript: Fans of Peter Temple will be pleased to learn that his Ned Kelly Award winning novel Shooting Star is due to be published as a Text Classic in May this year.