Done: Bad Debts by Peter Temple, 1996 (originally) but 2005 for this copy, 1596921293.
Pretty damn good. I tracked this down after a FFB entry for another Temple novel, White Dog, got me remembering Temple. I commented as much and was recommended Bad Debts as the first in this series featuring lawyer Jack Irish.
Irish is a small time lawyer, debt collector, and gambler in Melbourne, Australia. Irish abandoned his successful criminal defense practice for booze when a former client murdered Irish's wife. Irish has mostly dried out and is now in his forties, a Vietnam vet, has one daughter living north in Cairns, a sister in the wealthy suburbs, and a dead father who was a beloved Aussie Rules footballer for Fitzroy.
Irish gets a call from a past client asking for help. Irish was a blackout drunk when he defended the guy on a drunk driving manslaughter charge. Irish feels guilty for not giving the guy a proper defense. The guy ends up dead, shot by police in a parking lot outside a bar. Irish starts digging.
Turns out the open and shut case against the guy may have been a frame-up. The dead pedestrian was an activist looking to block an expensive development. Irish starts asking questions. Irish is followed by policeman-like dudes and warned away. Policeman-like dudes are asking around to the same people as Irish.
Irish also helps out a big-time horse expert and gambler to place multiple bets on races. They bets are not cheats. Not really. The gambler just knows horses and jockeys and has a group of people to place the bets, they are not throwing races.
More things happen. Threats. A quick trip to Perth. Beer. Wine. Furniture making. Sex with a lady journalist. More sex. More beer. Dead people. Mysterious happenings. Big time corruption. Big time money. Irish escapes death and makes a ton of dough on a horse race.
1. The plot does not make perfect sense. The hit-and-run murder set-up seems a bit of a stretch. The reason for the murder was a real estate deal worth a few million bucks. Sure, that's enough for prominent people to have someone killed. I suppose. So, why add in the underaged sex ring angle at the very end?
2. Local Melbourne love with restaurants, streets, local history, and sports rivalry.
3. I spent a relatively short time in Perth and loved it. Irish flies out to try and track down a witness and does not much like it there. The West Coast Eagles won the Aussie Rules championship when I was there in 1992 and even took in a game. Irish is disdainful of the club.
4. I cannot easily explain why I liked the novel so much. But, I did.
5. Holden cars.