Current Reading: Under the Cold Bright Lights

Under the Cold Bright Lights by Gary Disher, Soho Crime 2019 mystery novel.

In this very nicely written mystery novel, Disher brings us former homicide detective Alan Auhl, who has come out of retirement to handle cold cases. His small team look into the discovery of a body found under an old concrete slab in a rural area near Melbourne, Australia. Discovered when it’s necessary to tear up the slab questing for a copperhead snake, the snake is recovered and the body is found.

Their first task is to identify the “Slab Man”, as the press calls him, a shooting victim, then to figure out who killed him and why. Another case for Auhl centers on a self-important doctor whose first and second wives died mysteriously, and who now believes his third wife wants him dead. Meanwhile, Auhl is managing a strange household of lodgers, including a fearful young mother involved in a bitter custody dispute over her 10-year-old daughter.

Auhl crosses all kinds of lines to help people. The focus on such crimes as child abuse and religious scamming serves to show how justice is rarely gotten through institutional means. Though I thought the story dragged in places, Disher tells a good story with an very interesting character. I hope we see more of Detective Auhl.

Meanwhile, what are you reading?

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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12 Responses to Current Reading: Under the Cold Bright Lights

  1. tracybham says:

    Under the Cold Bright Lights does sound good. I have only read one book by Disher and I would like to read more.

    This week I read Love in Amsterdam by Nicholas Freeling. Now I am reading The Axeman’s Jazz by Julie Smith, set in New Orleans. It is a serial killer story, which I usually don’t like, but I am hoping for the best.

  2. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    Glad you liked the Disher. I also enjoyed it very much. I have read most of his books except for a couple of his Wyatt novels. His Wyatt books owe a lot to Richard Stark (Donald Westlake).
    I just read The Iron Dragon’s Mother by Michael Swanwick, one of my favorite sf/f writers. Loved it. It is the third in a series but are all standalones. Just started the new T.Jefferson Parker-The Last Good Guy. After that? Hoping the new Richard Russo comes in at the library.

    • Steve, I think maybe you liked this one a little more than I did. Still good, though. I have some Stanwick on the shelf…Bow-Wow Said the Dog…but have yet to read them. Boy, it’s been a long time since I read Parker. I read his first one, Laguna Heat at a time when I lived there.

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    So happy to see Nicholas Freeling mentioned above. I am reading THE HOUSE OF BROKEN ANGEL by Urrea. It is set in San Diego and concerns a Mexican family.

  4. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Glad you liked the Disher. Yes, he crosses lines but he does mean well. Not that it excuses everything he does. I am currently reading another Disher standalone – a very different one as this is set several hours north of Adelaide in South Australia – BITTER WASH ROAD. Very good so far.

    Tracy, I read all the Freeling books in existence back in the ’70s but haven’t kept up with him since.

    I’m reading a collection of R.A. Lafferty stories now that I finished the Q. Patrick collection.

    Also read SOME DIE NAMELESS, the newest by Wallace Stroby. He’s a favorite of mine, though I prefer the series about thief Crissa Stone to this well written standalone. And I read AM I ALONE HERE?: Notes on Reading to Live and Living to Read by Peter Orner. Short takes on short story writers he likes, along with personal stuff about his bad relationship with his father. I prefer his short stories.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever read Freeling, or maybe I have and don’t recall it. Who is the protagonist? Not familiar with Strobe. So many authors…

      • tracybham says:

        Freeling’s protagonist in the book I was reading is Inspector Van der Valk. It was the first book in the series and I am interested in whether the other books are similar to this one or not. This one did not feel like a normal police procedural but I liked it a lot. I will be reviewing it soon.

        • Jeff Meyerson says:

          Yes, I read all the Van der Valk books. Unfortunately, however, I got the first one (that is, MY first one) from the Mystery Guild and read it, only to discover that it was the LAST in the series and told me stuff I should not have known. This is one series that if you don’t read it in order, at least do NOT read the final book until you’ve read all the others.

  5. I read ROOM OF WHITE FIRE by T. Jefferson Parker, the first book in the series Steve is reading. Now that BRUNETTE WEEK is over, I’ve getting caught up on. Library books again. After not ordering anything from AMAZON for a few weeks, I decided to buy some books in the GIRL GENIUS series.

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