Temple, Peter 1946–

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Temple, Peter 1946–


Born 1946, in South Africa; immigrated to Australia, 1980. Hobbies and other interests: Cabinetmaking, horse racing.


Home—Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.


Worked as a journalist and editor for newspapers and magazines, including Australian Society; taught journalism, editing, and media studies at a number of universities; self-employed writer/editor, 1995—.


Four Ned Kelly awards, for Bad Debts, 1996, Shooting Star, 1999, Dead Point, 2000, and White Dog, 2003; Colin Roderick Award, Federation for Australian Literary Studies, 2005; Duncan Laurie Dagger award, 2007, for The Broken Shore.



Bad Debts, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1996, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

Black Tide, Bantam (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1999, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

Dead Point, Bantam (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

White Dog, Text (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2003.


An Iron Rose, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Shooting Star, Bantam (Milsons Point, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

Dead Point, Bantam (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Identity Theory, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2004, published as In the Evil Day, Quercus (London, England), 2006.

The Broken Shore, Text (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2005, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2007.


Peter Temple is an Australian crime writer who has garnered awards for his best-selling books, many of which have been reprinted in Britain and the United States. A former journalist and educator, in 1995 Temple turned his entire attention to writing, and the following year his first book, Bad Debts, was published. It is the first in a series featuring Jack Irish, a criminal attorney whose hobby is cabinetmaking and who enjoys betting on horses. Jack is not actually Irish, but of German-Jewish extraction. In this first book former client Danny McKillop has been released from prison and leaves him a desperate message asking for help. Before Jack returns the call, Danny is killed. Jack hunts for his murderer, finds romance, and becomes involved in a horse-racing plot. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "The engaging Jack and his friends are absolutely original and unfailingly amusing." Temple has received several Ned Kelly awards, which are the Australian equivalent of the Edgar Award in the United States, including three for books in this series.

Temple moved to Australia in 1980, and his novels reflect the atmosphere, culture, and rugged terrain of that country. Mostly Fiction Web site contributor Sudheer Apte wrote that "permeating the entire narrative is the ever-present coastline of southern Australia, of cold, jagged cliffs and violent seas. It may be a cliche to say that the place is itself a character in the novel, but it applies to The Broken Shore.

The protagonist is Victoria police detective Joe Cashin, who has returned to his childhood home with his two dogs to restore the old family dwelling and attempt to heal from both physical and emotional trauma. In the relative peace of the rural setting, local millionaire businessman Charles Bourgoyne is murdered, and Joe heads the investigation. When three Aboriginal teens are caught trying to sell the dead man's watch, the police move in on them and kill two. The third boy drowns himself offshore. The case is closed, but Joe, who has Aboriginal family members, is not satisfied with its conclusion. In this novel Temple treats a number of themes, including the poor treatment of Australian Aborigines and the ecology of the wilderness.

Booklist reviewer Keir Graff concluded his review by writing that "this deeply intelligent thriller starts slowly, builds inexorably, and ends unforgettably." A Publishers Weekly contributor called The Broken Shore "an unforgettable read."

In a Bookreporter.com interview, Temple was asked if, since he was born in South Africa, he would use that country as a setting. Temple replied: "I left South Africa out of profound distaste for the white regime and for a long time I had no wish to be reminded of the place. It has changed, however, and so have I. I set a chapter of Identity Theory in South Africa and one of the lead characters is South African. Given time, there are certainly plenty of themes I would like to explore in the country's recent history."

In Identity Theory, published in England as In the Evil Day, the action takes place across the globe—in South Africa, England, the United States, and Wales. Con Niemand is a former South African mercenary who now works in security, protecting wealthy South Africans from lingering violence. He comes into possession of a videotape that implicates American soldiers in the murders of the residents of a small South African village, and this raises alarms worldwide and leads to orders to kill him. A London newspaperwoman tries to buy the tape but is thwarted by people she thought she could trust. John Anselm is a journalist who was kidnapped in Lebanon and brain damaged due to a beating in which his head was bashed with a rifle butt. Anselm works in surveillance and is given the job of tracking Niemand, which soon leads them to a confrontation.

In reviewing the novel for the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, Luan Gaines described Identity Theory as "an excellent, well-written thriller that evokes malevolent shadows of intrigue and special ops, all the unnamable things we confine to spy movies." Library Journal reviewer Lawrence Rungren called the novel "a violent page-turner." January Magazine Web site contributor David Honeybone, who reviewed the British edition, wrote: "Anselm and Niemand battle with their own demons throughout this book, and as a result they make for wholly credible protagonists."



Booklist, October 15, 2004, Frank Sennett, review of Identity Theory, p. 393; March 15, 2007, Keir Graff, review of The Broken Shore, p. 30.

Entertainment Weekly, June 1, 2007, Jennifer Reese, review of The Broken Shore, p. 70.

Library Journal, October 1, 2004, Lawrence Rungren, review of Identity Theory, p. 74; May 15, 2007, Wilda Williams, review of The Broken Shore, p. 85.

Publishers Weekly, October 10, 2005, review of Bad Debts, p. 36; April 2, 2007, review of The Broken Shore, p. 38.


Age Online,http://www.theage.com.au/ (August 31, 2006), Jason Steger, "Crime Writer Judged a Serial Winner."

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (September 26, 2007), author interview.

Brisbane Writers Festival Web site,http://www.brisbanewritersfestival.com.au/ (September 26, 2007), author biography.

Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (September 26, 2007), Luan Gaines, review of Identity Theory.

Epinions,http://www.epinions.com/ (September 26, 2007), reviews of Bed Debts, Black Tide, and Dead Point.

January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (September 26, 2007), David Honeybone, "Peter Temple: Lies, Lies and Videotape."

Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (January 29, 2006), Jana L. Perskie, review of Bad Debts; (May 29, 2007), Sudheer Apte, review of The Broken Shore.

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