After the 2010 success of the rebooted Wyatt series, Garry Disher brings his master thief back for another outing. Set in the bright holiday glitz of Noosa, Disher delivers the usual range of criminals, sociopaths and underworld figures in another page-turner full of twists, turns and reverses.
Wyatt himself has not changed much since he first appeared back in 1991’s Kickback. The ultimate professional thief, Wyatt also has a hard time playing with others. As always, much of the narrative focus on Wyatt revolves around his meticulous planning for the crime he has been commissioned to commit – in this case the theft of a painting – but also his fallback planning. And as always, things do not go according to plan, which is where the fun of these books really lies.
In Wyatt’s world no one can be trusted. Every character is out to screw over every other character, and most of them know it. Disher spends a lot of time with this wide cast of ne’erdowells to set up the intricate plot that closes in around Wyatt. As with other Disher novels, every side character gets a turn in the spotlight, so that those plot mechanics emerge seamlessly from character.
Unlike Disher’s Peninsular series of procedurals, there is no deep mystery here. Instead, like all good heist fiction, the fun and tension comes in the way the various character justifications play out against each other. Wyatt’s seeming advantage in all of this is his lack of personal connection. He is a consummate professional, while all those around him are driven by baser motivations – lust, greed, revenge and power.
With The Heat, Disher continues to tap into that need that we have for anti-heroes. And with antecedents like Ned Kelly, Disher has an audience with an in built propensity to cheer for a likeable (or at least the most not- unlikeable) criminal underdog. Couple that with a twisted, tense and taut thriller and once again, Garry Disher has turned out a winner.