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Authors: Garry Disher

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Whispering Death

Praise for Garry Disher and the Peninsula mysteries

CHAIN OF EVIDENCE: WINNER, NED KELLY AWARD FOR BEST CRIME FICTION 2007

‘This installment puts Disher up on the world stage among the best in the business at this style of crime fiction.'
Age

‘
Chain of Evidence
deserves a fanfare.'
Sue Turnbull,
Sydney Morning Herald

‘Disher is one of Australia's very best crime fiction writers and this is a compelling read.'
Sun Herald

‘Another powerful statement from one of Australia's top crime writers.'
Courier-
Mail

‘Disher strips away the glamorous views to reveal desperation, deviants and depressives…The plot twists lie a back-road shortcut and pulls like the rip.'
Sunday Age

‘His best novel yet in what has been a distinguished career…Now on the same procedural shelf as international greats such as John Harvey, Tony Hillerman and Ian Rankin, Disher brings crime fiction back to simple facts.'
Australian

‘Intelligent, atmospheric…Fans of such gritty yet cerebral crime novelists as Ian Rankin and Jack Harvey should be well pleased.'
Publishers Weekly

‘Challis is a fine creation: strong and resourceful, yet with enough human frailty to satisfy the tastes of readers raised on Connelly, Rankin, or Patricia Cornwell. This is intelligent, well-crafted fare.'
West Australian

‘A slick, fast style that's delightfully free of filler and extraneous plotlines. Once the hook is set, he just lets the story pull you along…Disher is definitely not to be missed.'
Toronto Globe & Mail

‘Disher is delivering the best crime fiction around.' Peter Corris

Praise for Garry Disher and
Wyatt

WINNER, NED KELLY AWARD FOR BEST CRIME FICTION 2010

‘So compelling it simply has to be read in one sitting.'
Australian

‘Intensely exciting…one of the standout Australian crime novels of 2010.'
Canberra Times

‘Distinctly Australian noir writ large across Melbourne suburbia.'
GQ

‘The writing is lean and mean as ever, the return of Disher's tough, emotionally detached old-school crim welcome.'
Australian Way

‘I hope we don't have to wait another decade for the next installment in the series.'
Age

‘A cleansing breath in contemporary crime fiction…It's fascinating how so few words can draw a man so completely.'
Courier-Mail

‘Everything about him is hard boiled and Disher's writing is short, dry and fast-paced to match.'
West Australian

‘Genre fiction at its best.'
The Week

‘Gritty Australian and…uncompromising.'
Otago Daily Times

‘The story starts flat-out and never lets up…Verdict: hard and fast.'
Herald Sun

‘Smooth, assured mastery.'
New York Times Book Review

GARRY DISHER is the author of more than forty titles in multiple genres, including
The Sunken Road
, shortlisted for the NBC and South Australian Festival awards,
The Divine Wind
, winner of a NSW Premier's Award, and
The
Bamboo Flute
, winner of the CBC Book of the Year award. Garry's Wyatt thrillers and his Peninsula mysteries have garnered acclaim worldwide, winning awards in Germany and appearing on best-books-of-the-year lists in the USA.
Chain of
Evidence
, the fourth Peninsula mystery, won the 2007 Ned Kelly Award, and
Wyatt
won the award in 2010.

garrydisher.com

The Peninsula Murder Mysteries are:

The Dragon Man

Kittyhawk Down

Snapshot

Chain of Evidence

Blood Moon

GARRY DISHER

WHISPERING
DEATH

The Text Publishing Company
Swann House
22 William Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Australia
textpublishing.com.au

Copyright © Garry Disher 2011

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright above, no part of this publication shall be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

First published in 2011 by The Text Publishing Company

Cover design by Susan Miller

Typeset in Baskerville 12/16pt by J & M Typesetting
Printed in Australia by Griffin Press, an Accredited ISO AS/NZS 14001:2004
Environmental Management System printer

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication entry:

Author:   Disher, Garry, 1949-

Title:       Whispering death / Garry Disher.

Edition:   1st ed.

ISBN:      9781921758591 (pbk.)

Dewey Number:   A823.3

This project has been assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

The paper this book is printed on is certified against the Forest Stewardship Council® Standards. Griffin Press holds FSC chain of custody certification SGS-COC-005088. FSC promotes environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forests.

For Jo Tapper

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1

Grace was as good a name as any, and this morning Grace was in Hobart, strolling through a well-heeled corner of Sandy Bay, casing the secluded houses. A Friday morning in spring, a sea fret receding to Storm Bay and the Tasman Sea, it was good to be alive, and she attracted no attention in her tennis whites worn over tracksuit pants, sunglasses, Nike trainers and perky billed cap. A racquet handle poked out of her gym bag, telling you she was an idle young wife, maybe a young professional on her day off, even—if you were the suspicious type—an adulterer wearing a cover story.

But no warning bells. No cause for a stop-and-search. She belonged there.

In fact, it was hide in plain sight, Grace hiding behind the cap and shades, hiding the fact that the tennis skirt was Velcroed to the bodice and the gym bag held burglary tools, gloves and heavy-duty vinyl sacks. One shouted accusation, one query, and she'd be gone. Rip away the skirt, ditch it together with the cap, bag and shades and she'd be transformed into a jogger, and who looks twice at a jogger?

‘Always expect the worst,' Galt had drummed into her, ‘and you'll never be caught off guard.'

Another thing Galt told her was to avoid apartment buildings. Well, there were none here. There's always someone at home in an apartment block, Galt said, always a sad soul sitting at a window all day long, hoping for a diversion to brighten the unvarying hours.

Next, Grace checked for children: toys, bikes, skateboards, even a little pink gumboot, discarded in a front yard. Yes, kids go to school, Galt would say; but not if they're a toddler or they've got the chickenpox, not if it's a curriculum day for their teachers. And a kid at home means an adult at home.

Vehicles were on Galt's checklist too. Grace knew she was in a land of two-car households, two adults working nine to five in highly paid jobs. No shift workers here. Play it safe, Galt always said. If there's a vehicle in the driveway, the carport, move on. Or a closed garage door. Doesn't mean the garage is empty.

Finally, choose your targets to minimise the nosy-neighbour problem. The people worth stealing from paid top dollar to block an outsider's line of sight, Galt said. She should look for high hedges, sloping land, tree density and curved streets.

The rest Galt hadn't taught her. ‘I can show you how to stay under the radar,' he'd said. ‘I can keep my people off your back, but you were the break-in queen long before I found you.'

Grace made a rapid pass through the little neighbourhood. Trees and bushes crowded most of the houses. No one about, only a workman bolting a gate to a picket fence, another rolling a lawnmower off a ute. The houses ranged from weatherboard bungalows to sharply modern glass and concrete structures, with Tudor houses, Tuscan villas and small, tiled, steeply-gabled 1930s mansions in between. She mentally selected four targets and went to work.

The first was a nightmarish arrangement of interconnected concrete cubes, set well back from the street behind a high fieldstone wall. She entered the grounds briskly as she always did, as if her best friend lived there and they'd arranged to play tennis. When she was halfway to the front door she blew a high-frequency whistle, the kind audible only to dogs. She was answered at once by frenzied barking, one deep-chested, the other a high yap.

She retreated.

In the next street was a low 1970s ranch house set among gumtrees. No dogs. She made a quick circuit of the building, testing knobs and handles and peering through windows. Occasionally she found unlocked doors and windows, fake alarm boxes or no security at all, but often those places had nothing worth stealing. Grace circled the house again, this time running a small camping compass around the door and window frames. The compass needle dipped to indicate a live current at all but the front door. People had a misplaced faith in the security of their front doors, perhaps because most front doors face the street. Grace tested it again. A slight deflection of the needle near the latch.

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