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Bitter Wash Road

(Paul Hirschhausen #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,083 ratings  ·  294 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 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,083 ratings  ·  294 reviews

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Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't know how I could possibly have missed this gritty Aussie crime noir series by Garry Disher, featuring the demoted whistleblowing Constable Paul 'Hirsch' Hirschhausen, banished from Adelaide police to the remote backwaters of a small town, Tiverton, with their single officer police station. You might think this means little in the way of crime stirs here, but still waters run deep, where Hirsch, a good natured, compassionate man, with a core of hard steel, finds he has once again stepped ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: She lay as if sleeping, face down, her chest to the ground but her left hip cocked and her legs slightly splayed, one bent at the knee. Her right arm was trapped under her right hip, and her right cheek was stretched out in the dirt as if she were looking along her outflung left arm: looking blindly, Hirsch thought, thinking of the eye socket. Maybe her other eye was intact, tucked into the dirt. There was very little blood.

He took another series of photographs, focusing on the clothes
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
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. Hi
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
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
Very well written, it felt as if I was watching a film. The half star off is personal, I don't like police bullying. Definitely recommended for the vivid scenes and the tension.
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 polic ...more
Tara Rock
This was Slow, but no Burn. My first book by Garry Disher which I found to be low-key, mediocre and lacking depth. Enjoyed the prose and description of the Australian Outback.
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 compassionat ...more
Kylie H
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having once again done thing a#$e about - I have read Peace and Consolation - then read the first book in the series last.
Very happy I went back and read this one as it is really good and I understand the character of Hirsch a lot better. In this book he is still new to Tiverton and dealing with being treated as an outcast by his colleagues. He deals with a lot of local issues, but soon realises that the police further up the chain may be overstepping the law where it suits them.
Quite brutal in
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
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ant hills, sandy washaways, foxtails hooked onto gates, a couple of rotting merino carcasses, a tray-less old Austin truck beneath a straggly gumtree. Weathered fence posts and the weary rust loops that tethered them one to the other. He saw an eagle, an emu, a couple of black snakes. It was a land of muted pinks, browns and greys ghosted by the pale bluehills on the horizon.

Bitter Wash Road was great - an Australian police thriller with a real sense of place, and a mystery that completely hooke
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 se
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 incl
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

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
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 unifo ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: zread-in-2020, aty-52
Yesterday, I started reading Peace, the second instalment in Garry Disher's Paul Hirschhausen series. After reading a couple of chapters, it became apparent to me that there was a fair bit of character backstory I was missing, and - lo and behold! - a copy of Bitter Wash Road was available to borrow through my library's Libby collection.
This was a great example of the emerging genre of Australian noir, familiar to readers of authors such as Chris Hammer and Jane Harper, and I can't believe I hav
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 Hirschhause ...more
Liz Barnsley
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the last couple of years I’ve been immersed in a lot of Australian fiction because there’s such great reading coming over – it seems there’s another pretty damn fine purveyor of the art out there in Garry Disher, being published for the first time over here next year via new Serpents Tail imprint Viper books.

It’s probably the beginning of a new obsession for me, given that main protagonist Hirsch is incredibly engaging, pragmatic in the face of extreme pressure, ironically humerous about hi
Bitter Wash Road is the first book in the Paul Hirschhausen series by popular Australian author, Garry Disher. It has also been published under the title Hell To Pay. The audio version is (not pleasingly) narrated by British actor, Shaun Grindell. 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 superior ...more
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My addiction to this series is now fully formed. This is the first book featuring Paul Hirschhousen known as Hirsch. He is lovely, he is kind, his quiet town is way less than ideal, but he is being punished for getting accidentally embroiled in a corruption situation. He has made a stand against his powerful superiors. Big mistake, unless you are a man of convictions, then it is the right thing to do, but they are going to come after you and make you pay. And the powerful are out to punish him. ...more
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 one-
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our main character is Constable Paul Hirschhausen who has been sent to Tiverton in South Australia. His former station has been found out to have corruption from bottom to top and Hirsch is deem a whistle blower which is unforgivable in the police force around him. Hirsch first case starts with a young girl who has been involved in a hit and run and then a couple of weeks later a supposed suicide. These two cases aren’t linked at first but the more Hirsch investigates in comes apparent the cases ...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 bo ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: award-nominee, 2018
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
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bitter Wash Road (aka Hell To Pay) by Garry Disher is a modern-day Western police procedural based in a very sparsely populated town in Australia. Constable Paul Hirschhausen has been transferred to this last stop small police outpost against his will after exposing other corrupt police officials at his previous posting.

His new co-workers aren't sure if he is just an informer, corrupt or both and make it clear he is unwelcome in their small department. Residents also treat Paul Hirschhausen wit
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aussie grit

Constable Paul Hirschhausen has been banished to the dusty Australian outback town of Tiverton, his punishment for testifying against his fellow officers in a corruption trial. The body of a 16-year-old local girl is found on the side of the highway and Hirsch is trying to solve her death with little to no help from the local police.
What dirty secrets are the townspeople hiding that led to her death? The same secrets that you would find in any small American town. Money, sex, drugs, a
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.
It took a while for me to become engaged in this crime novel, set in rural South Australia (not so very far from where I live.) Initially it was too 'blokey' for me. But it drew me in to the small town setting with its mateship that concealed bigotry, abuse and corruption. Constable Paul Hirschhausen is not only fighting being the newcomer in town, he is also despised as a whistleblower on former city colleagues. He is determined to uncover the truth behind an apparent hit and run accident. As a ...more
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. ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Paul Hirschhausen (3 books)
  • Peace (Paul Hirschhausen #2)
  • Consolation (Paul Hirschhausen #3)

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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??” 1 likes
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