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Bitter Wash Road

(Paul Hirschhausen #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,041 ratings  ·  164 reviews
A modern western set in an isolated Australian bush town with a soaring crime rate, where a local constable with a troubled past must investigate the death of a teenage girl whose murder threatens to set the dusty streets ablaze.

Constable Paul Hirschhausen—”Hirsch”—is a recently demoted detective sent from Adelaide, Australia’s southernmost booming metropolis, to Tiverton,
Paperback, 325 pages
Published July 2015 by Soho Crime (first published October 2013)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  1,041 ratings  ·  164 reviews

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Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-books
I am really enjoying reading my way through this author's work, and luckily there is plenty of it so I will be busy for a while!

Bitter Wash Road tells the story of a whistle blower in the police force who, as he would be in most organisations, is shunned by his colleagues and sent to work in the back of beyond. Unfortunately he ends up in an equally bad scenario where the local police force consists basically of thugs.

Disher writes really well and his descriptions of the locality are spot on.
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'I don't care if a fellow police member swindles the Children's Hospital and violates a busload of nuns. You do not betray him.'

When Detective Paul Hirschhausen is demoted, and sent to a seedy little back water town, he finds the place even more corrupt than the police department he left behind. There are things happening in Tiverton that many people would kill to keep secret, and now Hirsch's investigations into the death of a teenage girl who was presumably hit by a car threaten to bring those
Constable Paul Hirschhausen ('Hirsch') has been banished to a one man police station in Tiverton, a small town north of Adelaide. Is only crime is supplying the police internal affairs department evidence of corruption involving several officers in his unit. Now he is both suspect and still under investigation himself and shunned by his colleagues for bringing down fellow officers. Hirsch soon finds that most of the locals are anti-police as his boss, Sergeant Kropp and his officers in the ...more
Constable Paul Hirschhausen, known to all as Hirsch, was the new cop in the rural town of Tiverton, a couple of hours north of Adelaide in South Australia. He was called a whistle-blower, hated and despised by his colleagues from the high up ranks to the lowest. Sent to this one-cop town in disgrace, his new boss was Sergeant Kropp , stationed at Redruth which was not all that far from Tiverton. But Hirsch was one of those honest cops; one who believed in the law – in being firm but ...more
Constable Paul Hirschhausen is a man of integrity and someone who has fallen foul in Adelaide after whistle-blowing on a bent cop. Hated by his colleagues, he know finds himself in the South Australian town of Tiverton, hoping to move on with his life that involves an upcoming inquest. But far from being a quiet time in this small town, Paul will find himself slap bang into something far greater than what he could ever imagine.

Called out to Bitter Wash Road after reports of shots being fired, he
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019

His hand was pale, scrupulously clean, no sign of sun damage, hard labour or mishaps, which put him at odds with the men, women and children Hirsch had encountered so far in the bush. People out here were generally blemished. Farm grime under fingernails, garden scratches, schoolyard scrapes, sun wrinkles, dusty trouser cuffs, tarnished watch straps and gammy legs.

One of the best crime novels I’ve read recently, my first from Garry Disher, but hopefully not the last. I was enthralled by how
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Quite easily my favourite Australian noir, Garry Disher's Bitter Wash Road is a tense drama of rural life from the point of view of an outsider, in this instance Hirsch, a potentially bent copper, demoted to patrolling a small town in South Australia.

Hirsch is dropped in to a fairly typical murder mystery plot - dead body, many suspects, coverups etc - and in true genre fashion misses clues, asks the wrong questions and jumps to conclusions BUT Disher gives the story so much more than that
First Sentence: On a Monday morning in September, three weeks into the job, the Tiverton policeman took a call from his sergeant: shots fired on Bitter Wash Road.

Paul Hirschhausen (“Hirsch”) has been demoted to Constable, and sent to back-of-beyond Australia where he’s mistrusted and berated by his “fellow” officers. Internal Investigations in Adelaide is still after him, trying to convict him of something and willing to plant evidence to do it. In the meantime, even in his remote locate, there
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Australian crime fiction readers
The initial attraction for me to Bitter Wash Road was the fact that it is set near my hometown of Adelaide. I love reading books where the setting is familiar (which doesn't happen all that often unfortunately).

The small country town feel is omnipresent, personified by the one man police station, working and dilapidated farmsteads, and the 'everyone knows everyone' characteristics of rural life. This gives Bitter Wash Road a distinct and unique feel to the common lone-wolf police procedurals

Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
While the murders are integral to the plot of Bitter Wash Road, they also provide a brilliant vehicle for the author Garry Disher to explore issues around cop culture and corruption in an insightful way. This book is a great read, and is revelatory in its exposure of the kind of blokey attitude that perpetuates stereotypical behaviour in small rural communities. Brainless thugs, thinly disguised as police constables, harass the less fortunate in town, just because they can, and because the ...more
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Bitter Wash Road is the eighteenth stand-alone novel by popular Australian author, Garry Disher. It has also been published under the title Hell To Pay. Not long after Constable Paul Hirschhausen has been banished to the small South Australian wheatbelt town of Tiverton for the unforgiveable (being a whistle-blower), he is called to attend an apparent hit-and-run. But, despite the scorn of his superiors, to Hirsch, something feels not quite right. And when, a few weeks later, he discovers the ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bitter Wash Road is about a man who lost everything to do the right thing. Detective Paul Hirschhausen after whistleblower on his colleagues was demoted to a constable and sent to one policemen station in a small rural town in South Australia. When Constable Paul Hirschhausen was called to investigate the death of a 16-year-girl, it started events that changed his life and the small community that he is in-charged to protect. The readers of Bitter Wash Road will follow Constable Paul ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

I read "Under the Cold Bright Lights" by Garry Disher and enjoyed the book so much I wanted to try another by this author. This book is definitely good but I think the former book spoiled me.

In "Hell to Pay", Constable Paul Hirschhausen (Hirsch) is stationed in a small town in the bushland of South Australia. Corruption happens because after all, who is really watching, but a local girl is found in a hit-and-run and Hirsch is not so sure the circumstances are all that clear. As he begins
Alex Cantone
(Hirsch) recalled camping trips from his childhood, teachers warning the kids not to pitch their tents under gumtrees. All that sinewy health on the outside and quiet decay within. A bit like the police, really.

Paul Hirschhausen is a (fairly) honest cop, dogged by his time serving with a dishonest and corrupt detective team out of metropolitan Paradise Gardens north of Adelaide. He turned evidence and escaped a jail term, but not the wrath of the South Australian Police Service he “ratted” on.
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
This was an Australian crime book. I listened to the audio and I liked the author's accent. Usually I'm not a fan of that, but in this book, it was nice. I liked the MC. He progressed greatly and the ending was completely believable as far as where he ended up. His characteristics were well drawn. I didn't like him at first...he was a little a whiny. But then he grew on me. The story was a little busy for me, however, the author kept it all reigned in. So 3 stars.
Andrew Nette
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
Garry Disher has been writing crime fiction for longer than I’ve been reading it.

I love his work and think his books are getting better and better.

If you want proof, check out his latest novel, Bitter Wash Road.

Unlike Disher’s other crime fiction, the Wyatt series and the Challis and Destry police procedurals, Bitter Wash Road is intended as a stand alone.

The story is told from the perspective of Hirsch, a whistle blowing cop, him self under suspicion of corruption, who has been exiled to a
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really hope this is the beginning of a new series. Paul "Hirsch" Hirschausen is a one time Adelaide cop sent to Coventry (or, in this case, the South Australian outback) as punishment for grassing a bent senior copper. He is despised in the force as a result and soon learns he is the target of retribution for those he informed on. Disher's descriptions of the outback and the sinister underbelly of Hirsch's new locale are beautifully written and the tension is real throughout. His characters, ...more
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was the first of Disher's crime novels that I've read, and it probably won't be the last. I've enjoyed his YA work in the past, and this very recent publication confirms Disher as one of Australia's better novelists. What I particularly like about Disher is the way he brings his settings to life - without getting bogged down in tedious description like so many writers. This book is set in rural South Australia, where the author grew up, so it is not surprising that he can describe the harsh ...more
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bitter Wash Road is the latest police procedural from Garry Disher. Introducing a new protagonist, and set in the isolated South Australian wheatbelt, this is a book that delves deep into corruption, influence and power. Review at
I felt pretty in the middle about this read. It was solid from the perspective of the mystery at hand and I really enjoyed the local flavor that Disher projects with the backdrop and the setting and scenery. He definitely gives the book the gritty and tense feel and atmosphere we expect as a reader.

I thought the main character, Hirsh, was one you could really identify with and root for. As he gets more immersed in the mysterious death of the young girl, he must battle not only various
Lilla Smee
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Confession: I dislike fiction set in Australia* (a form of cultural cringe?). More specifically, that with a contemporary or historical Australian setting, and particularly (but not only) rural settings. But for 2014 I set myself a challenge to try to read more of it - either to better understand what it is I dislike about it, or to actually learn to appreciate it!

To ease myself into it, I decided to go for Australian crime fiction, and Bitter Wash Road was it.

It was pretty much
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Such an enjoyable experience to re-acquaint myself with Garry Disher. A thoroughly enjoyable police procedural set in country South Australia.
Prologue: Browsing the shelves of my favorite local bookstore, I was first attracted to the book, which was standing on a special recommendations display, by its cover - it was the German edition Bitter Wash Road by Garry Disher showing a rundown truck in front of an even more rundown shed on it. Next, I read the back cover blurb which sealed the deal for me. However, I was determined to read the original story and not a translation. Translations are a great thing to have, but you can never be sure how much of the original ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Took me forever to get through this one. Australia never seemed more dull and dispiriting. Kept slogging (an then skimming) through just to find out who done it, but didn't really care by the end. Not sure if it's the writing, the characters (both flat), the "all cops are crooked except for one" trope, or the mystery itself - nothing appealed.
Gloria Feit
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel I have read by this Australian author and I am happy to report that it was a pleasure to read such fine writing. Apparently Mr. Disher has written more than 40 books in a variety of genres, including crime, and I’m surprised that he has just come to my attention. Nevertheless, needless to say, “Hell to Pay” is well worth reading.

Constable Paul (“Hirsch”) Hirschhausen is reassigned from Adelaide to a one-road Australian town in a backwater area, three hours from Adelaide
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this novel.You only have to read the first couple of pages to know that you're in the hands of a masterful writer. The sense of place is a prominent feature of this novel and even though the writing is very disciplined, it is at the same time so evocative that I could almost smell the dust and feel the searing heat of this town in the wheat belt of South Australia.

Whistleblower and disgraced cop Hirsh is a likable and believable character who is not without his flaws but still
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hirsch is a policeman whose integrity is suspect amongst his fellow workers because he blew the whistle on a corrupt cop and his team. As a result he’s been sent to a village in the backblocks of South Australia and put in charge of a one-man station. Little by little he discovers more corruption in his local scene, and in spite of being warned off by the sergeant in the town further along the road, he comes to his own conclusions and pursues the villains, often at a cost.

Disher presents a
Steven Paulsen
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
When it comes to crime writing in Australia, Garry Disher is right up there with Peter Temple and Peter Corris. This standalone novel, Bitter Wash Road, is both a gripping and dramatic murder mystery, as well as an insightful view of rural Australian life. Its characters are real people and you can smell and taste their world. This is a great book.
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Garry Disher book and I enjoyed it so much, I'm already ordering some more. Great story telling technique, excellent characterization, low key suspense, steadily moving narrative that holds the reader's interest right through to the final totally unforeseen resolution.
If we could give half stars, I'd give it 4.5.
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's a toss up. Is Disher Australia's best crime writer or is Temple? Both masters of character driven, social realism.
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Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents' farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full

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“The only good thing to come out of it was a kind of wisdom in Hirsch. He’d grown to understand that police officers can drift over time, and it isn’t always or entirely conscious but a loss of perspective. Real and imagined grievances develop, a feeling that the job deserved greater and better public recognition. Rewards, for example, in the form of more money, more or better sex, a promotion, a junket to an interstate conference, greater respect in general. Some of these rewards were graspable, others the thwarted dreams that drove their grievances. Cynism set it. The bad guys always got away with it, and the media seized on the police officer who took a bribe rather than the one who helped orphans. So why not take shortcuts and bend the rules??” 0 likes
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