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Port Vila Blues by Garry Disher

Port Vila Blues (1995)

by Garry Disher

Series: Wyatt (5)

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Wyatt is a crook. Pulling off the successful heist of a mark, one of the items in the safe, in addition to the cash he had been told about, is a very expensive and eminently traceable Tiffany brooch. That brooch was about to cause some serious problems. A gang of crooked cops had lifted the thing in an earlier heist and now they have reason to believe someone was skimming from the take.

Add Wyatt to your list of favorite crooks alongside Parker and Nolan. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Port Vila Blues by Garry Disher
Set in Australia, Port Vila Blues is the fifth in Garry Disher's series featuring a thief named Wyatt, who is as skilled at his chosen career as any legitimate professional. He uses his considerable intelligence to scientifically plan his "jobs." He trusts no one, not even his long-time partner, Jardine, but he nearly succumbs to the charms of a "fence" who is interested in a piece he steals from the empty home of Cassandra Wintergreen, a member of the Australian parliament.
Jardine, however, has suffered an injury that resulted in minor brain damage, impairing his thinking and memory, so Wyatt must depend on himself. When he discovers that the Tiffany brooch he stole from MP Wintergreen had been previously stolen in a bank robbery by an elusive gang, Wyatt becomes enmeshed in a situation that threatens to spiral out of control, as it involves police on the take and even a judge who uses his position to amass a fortune in stolen treasures.
Even though few of the characters are likeable, they are are real, and Disher maintains the pace of the story. It never lets up as it moves from Australia to Vanuatu and back again. Every character in the novel seems to have a double life, and you never know who is the "good guy" and who the "bad guy," if there is such a thing. The Australian slang adds a fun element to the story for American readers, but the story could be anywhere. It is a roller coaster ride where you aren't sure which thieves to root for. Port Vila Blues is a great "cops and robbers" story that will keep you turning the pages. ( )
  kathleen.heady | Aug 8, 2012 |
Disher turns the standard crime novel on its head with this series. It follows a clever thief named Wyatt as he works the shadowy world of crime. Wyatt is the perfect anti-hero. He's a criminal, he'll steal certainly and will kill if he has to, but otherwise we the readers admire his skill and cleverness, and make note of his strange loyalties and vulnerabilities. Instead of being the character you love to hate, he's the character you hate to love.

In this tale, Wyatt gets a job to break into the home of a politician on the take, one with a load of cash in her safe. Wyatt does the job beautifully (it's really hard not to admire such caution, organization and efficiency) and nabs a beautiful Tiffany butterfly brooch from the safe as a bonus. He learns when he tries to fence brooch that it is already stolen goods and before long some very powerful men are looking for him. It all gets quite complicated. There's a reasonably high body count but, damn, you can't help yourself but root for Wyatt to come out okay....

This is certainly not my usual literary crime fare, but it's difficult not to get drawn into this story, seduced by the job details, and pulled along by the slowly increasing suspense. In Wyatt's world it's hard to tell who the bad guys really are. Wyatt as a character is crafted well, a Disher trademark, and the story is well done. All in all, it made for an enjoyable few hours of reading. Note: I believe this is the 2nd in the Wyatt series. ( )
2 vote avaland | May 6, 2012 |
Showing 3 of 3
The Australian writer Garry Disher works the same territory that the late Donald E. Westlake, writing as Richard Stark, pioneered to great and readable effect in his 24 novels featuring Parker, the smart and heartless burglar and killer.

Like Parker, Disher’s bad guy has a single name (Wyatt), favours the solitary life (Wyatt’s idea of bliss involves sailing the world alone) and possesses diligent work habits (he sees himself as “private, professional and meticulous”). Wyatt may not be as cold-blooded as Parker in killing people, but he qualifies as Parker’s Down Under equivalent with the chance to surpass him in all-round nastiness now that Westlake’s death has taken Parker out of the running.

Disher’s seven Wyatt novels have been slow to reach Canada. Port Vila Blues, just released here, was published in Australia in 1995. Some of Wyatt’s burglary methods in the book seem a trifle antique today, but the scheming that goes into his heists is outstanding in its originality.

As Port Vila Blues gets underway, Wyatt cracks a politician’s safe for the 50 grand he’s sure he’ll find. But he knew nothing in advance about the priceless Tiffany brooch tucked under the cash. He swipes the brooch, which brings him unanticipated grief. It happens that a clever bunch of robbers called the “Magnetic Drill Gang” have an interest in the brooch. It further happens that the guys in the gang are cops. Is Wyatt’s elusiveness enough to keep him steps ahead of Magnetic Drill? Answering the question is what this worthy book is all about.
added by VivienneR | editThe Toronto Star, Jack Batten (Nov 16, 2012)
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Carlyle Street, Double Bay, 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, the air clean and cool.
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Combining maverick strategies and old-style methods in his work as a thief, Wyatt eludes authorities while managing lucrative heists until a diamond-studded Tiffany brooch and an infatuation with the wrong girl pit him against dangerous adversaries.

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