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Port Vila Blues by Garry Disher
Cover Artist: Johan Hedenstrom / Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Soho Crime Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616951016
Date: 21 August 2012 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

In Sydney, Australia, Wyatt Wareen breaks into the hidden safe of politician Cassandra Wintergreen; he steals $50,000 along with a Tiffany diamond butterfly. After trying to sell the butterfly to a beautiful fence, Liz Redding, he becomes the target of the Magnetic Drill Gang. They are a team of professional thieves consisting of crooked police officers who are controlled by their blackmailing boss, Judge Victor De Lisle. The butterfly was De Lisle's gift to Wintergreen and he will kill anyone in order to get it back. Determined to live, Wyatt must confront De Lisle and his men at De Lisle's luxurious vacation home in the tropical resort of Port Vila, Vanuatu (van-wah-too).

Many fans of Wyatt Wareen are rejoicing that Soho Crime has reprinted Gary Disher's Australian noir classic, Port Vila Blues, which was originally published in Australia in 1995 by Allen & Unwin.

Also by Garry Disher:
Kittyhawk Down
Chain of Evidence
Blood Moon
Port Vila Blues

Wyatt once served in Vietnam, where he began his career as a professional thief. Vietnam taught him how to shoot weapons, fight with his hands and, most importantly, maintain his cool during a crisis, e.g., when he is forced to lie flat on his back with his hands clasped behind his head while someone points an automatic pistol at him. Throughout this bloody, fast-paced novel, there are numerous scenes of sudden violence that will make the reader gasp. Furthermore, the novel is populated with characters living deceptive, hypocritical lives. Judges and police officers are required to uphold the law, not break it; most despicable of all is that these villains create fatal accidents for those who might expose them.

One of the novel's few redeemable characters is the fence, Liz Redding. Together, she and Wyatt have a romantic relationship that is very tenderhearted. Later, however, complications develop. She becomes a damsel in distress and he a knight in shining armor who rescues her from the evil king of crime who lives in the guarded mansion on the hill, overlooking the tropical paradise of Port Vila, Vanuatu. Honestly, I had never heard of Vanuatu until I read this novel. It is located in the South Seas, off the coast of Australia, between the Solomon Islands and the Fiji Islands. Reading about Port Vila with its cruel mixture of beauty and squalor, wealthy tourists and impoverished natives, made me remember my cruises to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

If you want to become a jewel thief, there is no better person to learn this from than Wyatt Wareen, the master of the game. He taught me some neat tricks on burglarizing a home. Throw a newspaper through the window. The police will believe it to be a mishap. After the security company disengages the alarm, you can waltz right into the home. Quick witted, armed to the teeth, and always in disguise, Wyatt reminds me of a crooked James Bond. However, according to an e-mail I received from Garry Disher, his idea for Wyatt came from his love of the Parker novels written by Richard Stark.

After an absence of nearly fifteen years, Wyatt resurfaced last year in Soho Crime's release of Wyatt. Fortunately, fans won’t have to wait quite so long for the next installment of Wyatt’s adventures; the author plans on releasing another Wyatt novel in 2013. Wyatt, explained Disher, represents the desire of many of us to commit the perfect robbery.

Fans of violent, bloody noir with exotic locales will definitely want to read Garry Disher's Port Vila Blues. I will be keeping my fingers crossed that Soho Crime will release more of the earlier novels in the Wyatt series, especially The Fallout since a main character, other than Wyatt, returns from Port Vila Blues.

In case you are wondering, here is the chronological order as to when the novels were originally published: Kickback (1991), Paydirt (1992), Deathdeal (1993), Crosskill (1994), Port Vila Blues (1996), The Fallout (1997) and Wyatt (2011).

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