Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bad Debts (Jack Irish, #1)” as Want to Read:
Bad Debts (Jack Irish, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bad Debts (Jack Irish #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,228 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
A phone message from ex-client Danny McKillop doesn’t ring any bells for Jack Irish. Life is hard enough without having to dredge up old problems: His beloved football team continues to lose, the odds on his latest plunge at the track seem far too long, and he’s still cooking for one. When Danny turns up dead, Jack is forced to take a walk back into the dark and dangerous ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published October 26th 2005 by MacAdam/Cage Publishing (first published 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bad Debts, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bad Debts

The Broken Shore by Peter TempleTruth by Peter TemplePicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan LindsayCocaine Blues by Kerry GreenwoodSpoils of the Moon by Mark Shearman
Australian Crime Fiction
6th out of 200 books — 103 voters
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughA Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenCloudstreet by Tim WintonPicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Best Books Set in Australia
141st out of 589 books — 397 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 09, 2013 nina rated it liked it
There's nothing not to like here: good writing, complicated plot, fun setting in Australia. However, if you've read enough of this type of book, you can go through the checklist: Black best friend? Check. Tragic experience in past? Check. Recovering alcoholic? Check. Police contacts? Reporter girlfriend? Colorful friends? Check, check, check. There's nothing new here, but it's fun.
Dave Riley
Jan 02, 2013 Dave Riley rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
The plotting is always convoluted in a Peter Temple read. You do at times scratch your head -- but then...there's so much verve in these pages peopled with some beautifully drawn characters and a tangible sense of place and time that the ride is something you are not keen on concluding.

Jack Irish -- as gumshoes go -- is very credible indeed. He comes to us in this, in the first of the series, fully formed. Dodgy. Opportunistic. Living on the edge at bit. But genuinely one of us.

Neither a cowboy
Nancy Oakes
Dec 27, 2012 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
Set mainly in Melbourne, once a criminal lawyer, John (Jack) Irish is now making his way out of a dark period of life that he drifted into after the death of his second wife who died at the hands of an unhappy client. Trying to deal with his pain, Jack drowned his sorrows in alcohol and became a collector of "serious debts," as well as a gambler betting on the ponies. He does some odd work for a couple of men in the horse racing business. But there's another side to Jack -- as a sort of therapy, ...more
Lisa Hall
Mar 04, 2014 Lisa Hall rated it really liked it
I have a new favorite lawyer.

Jack Irish, criminal lawyer, cabinet maker and horseracing fanatic, gets a call from the past, several in fact. If he’d only pick up his messages more often. An old client, one he doesn’t remember, wants to talk. Danny Mckillop is dead by the time Jack finds him.

The McKillop case is one from Jack’s drinking days and as he looks into the matter, guilt over having failed to represent the man properly, to question the confession, takes root and won’t let go.

This was a c
A good solid mystery, but I got bogged down in the Australian terms and slang. I did find it a tad confusing at first, as it was full of twists, and it slowed down for me in the middle. But once I figured out where it was going with all the murder, politics and corruption, and started to understand more, I enjoyed it. It reads like a slightly rocky start to a series, but I think it has the potential to get much better. The main character, Jack Irish, could use some development but I like him.
Mar 26, 2011 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: australian
Geeze, Temple is good. I mean, this is no Broken Shore, and has all his usual 'way too many coincidences' problems. And what's with his obsession with street-kid-porn? But damn he writes a likeable protagonist. Is there anyone who wouldn't like Jack Irish? I just love the way Temple writes dialogue and describes things. I'd love to see him write some not-crime, cause really, I don't care much for crime. Anyway, read this in two days. Just couldn't stop.
Oct 23, 2013 JayeL rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, audio, 2013
I really liked this book. Jack was not the hard-boiled private investigator type. He is not a P.I., he is a lawyer who does high level odd jobs that are only basically lawyer-like. I liked him as a character, because he seemed real and human. He does get beaten up, but it isn't every 5 minutes. I liked the other characters as well, especially Linda and Cam. I didn't understand what Harry did or a lot about the horse racing aspect, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment.
Meet Jack Irish. After seeing the tv movies with Guy Pierce, I got ver interested in these books. Sure enough, the books are even better than the movies. Excellent read and a great story with humour to boot. Highly recommended.
Apr 30, 2008 Tom rated it it was amazing
a cracking gritty read - I struggled a little with some of the Melbourne vernacular but once I remembered what a ute was, I was right.

crooked horses, crooked politicians, dodgy land deals ...
thanks for the tip, Mike!
Oct 25, 2016 Jc rated it it was ok
The story is OK although, to make it more credible, I suppose, the author adds too many boring details about the nature of the corruption scheme. The main character is interesting but there are too many people unrelated to the main story gravitating around him. Also it is one of those books where you have constantly to go back to figure out “who is that guy again”. Finally the bit about horse racing, which is not an insignificant bit, adds nothing to the story and I found it quite tedious.
RB Love
Feb 06, 2009 RB Love rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2009
Fast out of the gate then a real bog in the middle and by the time it was all over, very satisfying. Like a roast and potato dinner, with good gravy. The layers of the Jack Irish, detective novel-type protagonist, mixing in the grief over his lost spouse, his interest in woodworking, his sojourn's with one of his clients to the horse races, a new found love interest and on top of all this, the giant land development/political murder scandal with underage porn on top. It's quite a load looking ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up after enjoying the television adaptations of Bad Debts and Black Tide starring Guy Pearce. The series differs in a number of ways, including the fact that Pearce does not resemble the Jack Irish that author Peter Temple describes. But that's really a moot point here.

Bad Debts reads like a class hardboiled crime novel, though taken out of its typical setting and relocated in Melbourne, Australia, during the 1990s. The hero-detective, Jack Irish, is suitably cynical and world-wear
Sep 01, 2014 Chris rated it liked it
The first of the Jack Irish novels and it's a good one; however, it takes a little while to get you in the grip of turning the pages. The Aussie slang and cultural metaphors can be Greek at times but Temple is a master at suspense and you are able to discern enough to keep turning the pages. Jack is a guy on the rebound from the murder of his wife-and it's been a long rebound. He's a lawyer for a guy who likes to play the horses and perhaps rig the races. He also collects debts and is not averse ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Crime Fiction fans
This is my second Peter Temple book. This one features his series protagonist, Jack Irish, a lawyer of sorts, who makes his way as best he can getting himself in trouble along the way.

In this story Irish hears from an ex-client, Danny McKillop, who has just been released from prison. Because of a guilty conscience due to his alcohol fogged defense of McKillop, Irish gets involved in trying to reopen the case. In the process, all kinds of ugly things crawl out from under the rocks he turns over,
Jun 18, 2014 Danika rated it really liked it
Listened to the audiobook. I'd dismissed Temple for a long time, don't know why - everyone was talking about one of his books when I worked in a bookshop (I think it'd won an award), and I got mulish and decided it wasn't for me. It wasn't until after I watched the teleseries with Guy Pierce on iView that I realised that it was completely my sort of thing.

Jack Irish is an enjoyable narrator, an uncommon thing in a first-person narration. He's a washed up lawyer, a gambler, and a stumbler-over of
Mary Drake
Nov 11, 2015 Mary Drake rated it really liked it
This 1996 detective story set in Melbourne has held up well. Jack Irish, a sometime solicitor, is returning to living after the life wreck caused by the murder of his wife by his ex-client. He is jolted into activity by a voicemail from another ex-client and the guilt it engenders.

Jack is no lily white as he lives on the edges of the racing world, with some crooked cops for friends and doing some dodgy jobs. but he wasn't expecting to get involved in murder, property scams, and some very messy
Dec 20, 2014 Tina rated it it was amazing
This book is a real page-turner. The story was based in Australia and there was always a rolling plot; just as something calmed down there was an incorporation of something about to escalate. I went to my public library database and there seems to be a disconnect to acquire the second book in the series. I have wrote to the library to suggest the purchase of the second book in the series, Black Tide.

Temple shared how he feels about certain careers. Page 75: "It's nice that there's a special occu
Jan 25, 2014 Anthony rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I happened to be looking through Netflix for something to watch and found the movie with Guy Pearce. I have always enjoyed Guy's work and gave the movie a tumble. I liked the film so much that I decided to read the book. It was a fun read. The character is great. He is a P.I. of sorts with a tragic past and has some funny smart ass moments. His name is Jack Irish. Great name. He is involved in a betting scheme on the side in horse racing which I don't completely understand but I just gloss over ...more
Nov 14, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a good detective story
This is the first Peter Temple book I've read and I can safely say it won't be the last. It was a fun, fast paced riot. The character of Jack Irish is well developed and completely believable. The whole story zipped along nicely to a well thought out conclusion. The end might have been a little easy to figure out but it was still a fun ride to get there.

The "hard boiled" detective is a genre that has been beaten to death. While Mr. Temple doesn't exactly cover new ground, his characters are fla
A. Mark Thomas
Jan 23, 2013 A. Mark Thomas rated it it was amazing
Had seen these books for ages on the shelves and read about Temple.
Happily admit to watching the first ABC drama with the excellent Guy Pearce, Marta Dusseldorp, Aaron Pedersen and Roy Billing
Have now read the four - this one, Black Tide, Dead Point, and White Dog.
All great reads; wonderful descriptions of Melbourne and its outlying suburbs
Wonderful characters, gritty stories, believable action and violence - when Jack Irish gets into trouble, ie bashed by bad guys, it takes him days, weeks, eve
Mar 19, 2016 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a new author for me and I will be looking out for him in future.
His familiarity with Australian speech patterns and the ability to have his characters speaking in a believable way resulted in his characters being brought to life for me. Following on from reading a Richard Flanagan book, I couldn't help but be impressed by the difference in their ability to reproduce the Australian idiom.
My criticism is that the author lets his imagination run away with him at the end, when we have assass
Sandy Vaile
Oct 24, 2014 Sandy Vaile rated it really liked it
This book is rich with Melbourne city culture and lingo. It looks at the city's seedy underbelly, corrupt officials and developers, as well as getting up close and personal with working class folks.

You couldn't get a more flawed hero, and yet Jack's tenacity and decency makes you love him. He gets a call from ex-client - a case he handled when he was drowning grief with alcohol - and is drawn into a series of suspicious circumstances that make him believe the case might not have been as open and
Doug Newdick
May 26, 2016 Doug Newdick rated it liked it
Bad Debts has been made into a really good TV movie starring Guy Pearce, and while the original source book shares some of the same qualities of the movie, it isn't quite as good. It is very Australian - in a good way - it is no American (or English) novel transplanted into an Australian setting. It is deeply Australian, from the setting in Melbourne, the social context (working class Melbourne, footy and racing), and the language. And it deals with Australian concerns, development, corruption. ...more
Oct 14, 2013 Christine rated it really liked it
Even though I saw the television episode of this BEFORE I read the book, I thoroughly enjoyed this, the first Jack Irish book. And as an aside, the TV show was very true to the novel.

Although in some ways a 'bog standard' private eye type (but a lawyer not a PI) - white middle aged, not quite a loner, with a sad back story, Jack Irish is more than that. The novel is told in the first person with witty and deep observations of the world and the people who inhabit it. The novel is full of interest
Jul 23, 2011 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book. I had a tough time with the style in the beginning. It seemed very stream of consciousness and I had a hard time figuring out the players and their relation. I was pre-warned about the "Australinisms" and have a very kind fellow Goodreader offering this Yankee translations for things such as "dob" (which my Kindle kindly told me was short for Doberman Pinscer). Anyway, the story was good, and I would probably read another of his. I picked it up for a summer reading challenge ...more
Apr 17, 2015 Stacy rated it liked it
Purposely set out to read this book since it was set in Australia and I thought it would be fun to read a mystery set there. Outside of not really understanding the slang, it was a fun read and I enjoyed the mixing of a mystery, woodworking, horse racing, and debt collecting. Needless to say, the main character Jack is a very busy man. My favorite parts of the book were the bits about horse racing that had absolutely nothing to do with the mystery but provided an insight into Jack, his life and ...more
Jun 13, 2016 Camille rated it it was amazing
This is the first book in the Jack Irish series. Excellent story regarding corrupted some corrupt policemen, politicians and a so-called man of the cloth. Jack receives messages from an ex-client which leads him to a murder, corrupt land deals and an underage sex ring. Throughout the story, Jack deals with past memories of being a lawyer & his late wife; helping friends find a suitable racing horse, and searching for evidence to confirm why people were killed to cover-up the corrupt land ...more
Dale Barlow
Mar 15, 2014 Dale Barlow rated it it was amazing
first of the “Jack Irish Thriller’s” by this prolific author; an ex-client of a distressed atty. (with good reason, his wife got killed because of his previous work) attempts to contact the now reforming atty., then is killed before contact is made…from there the story unfolds in rapid and interesting fashion; well done; read in one day because it was that good and I had the time (dah); I had read this author on vacation in 2013 and really liked that work (see 2013/#33); 2005, paperback via ...more
This novel is set in Melbourne. The hero, Jack Irish, is rather connected to colourful racing identities and a lot of shady people, so we see a bit of the underbelly of Melbourne society in the course of the story.
Jack is contacted by a former client, for whom he acted as a lawyer. He ignores the request and the man ends up dead, leaving Jack feeling guilty and inclined to look into the whys and wherefores of his client's problem.
The dialogue is funny. The story very "noir" and atmospheric.
Sep 06, 2016 Suzi rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, australian
Fun hard-boiled political mystery that involved nigh on everything - child porn, developers, horse racing, murders, shady politicians, isolated shacks, rooftop chases and more. Experienced mystery readers can see plot points developing miles (or kilometers?) ahead, but that's just fine. Looking forward to book 2.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Bad Debts by Peter Temple - 3 stars 3 7 Aug 21, 2016 06:31PM  
How did Scullen etc. Find Jack etc. at the end? 1 1 Jun 05, 2016 07:34PM  
  • The Dragon Man (Inspector Challis, #1)
  • The Diggers Rest Hotel (Charlie Berlin, #1)
  • Nice Try (Murray Whelan, #3)
  • Last Drinks
  • The Old School
  • Dark Times in the City
  • City of Lost Girls (Ed Loy, #5)
  • Cabal (Aurelio Zen, #3)
  • The Damned Season
  • Poirot: Four Classic Cases
  • No Trace (Brock & Kolla, #8)
  • Undercurrents
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Peter Temple is an Australian crime fiction writer.

Formerly a journalist and journalism lecturer, Temple turned to fiction writing in the 1990s. His Jack Irish novels (Bad Debts, Black Tide, Dead Point, and White Dog) are set in Melbourne, Australia, and feature an unusual
More about Peter Temple...

Other Books in the Series

Jack Irish (4 books)
  • Black Tide (Jack Irish, #2)
  • Dead Point (Jack Irish, #3)
  • White Dog (Jack Irish, #4)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »