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Book DetailsISBN: 9781742750156
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Book Review: Brotherhood by Catherine Robertson - Reviewed by Shelleyrae (04 May 2012)
The Brotherhood is a gritty police drama by debut author YA (Yvette) Erskine.
The Brotherhood begins with the shooting of an experienced and well liked police officer during a routine break and enter investigation in suburban Tasmania. His murder however, is almost incidental to the story in that the how, who and why are quickly deduced. Instead the death serves as a catalyst to explore the issues of crime and justice.
Given Erskine's eleven years on the force it seems that she could be walking a fine line between fact and fiction with The Brotherhood. She doesn't hesitate in exposing the contradictions of a law and order which operates under political, financial and social pressures. Hampered by petty politics and woefully under resourced, Erskine reveals a police force where corruption and sexism is rife. Officers struggle to maintain their integrity in an environment where they are increasingly undervalued and at risk. The author highlights the challenges and frustrations of modern policing with unflinching honesty. Erskine also exposes a justice system that fails to uphold the principle that 'all should be treated equal under the law'. In this instance the perpetrator's identity as an Australian Aboriginal complicates the open and shut case. Justice is swayed by the suspect's cultural heritage, his socioeconomic status, his background and the very real tensions between the indigenous community and police.
There is a brutal sense of authenticity about The Brotherhood, enhanced by the uncensored language and spare style of writing. The story unfolds from several points of view, beginning with the probationary constable who was present at the scene, and then continuing through a diverse cast related to the case including the Police Commissioner, the suspect and a local journalist. It's an unique approach that allows the story to move forward but with shifting perspective. Surprisingly it doesn't feel disjointed but instead adds a depth that wouldn't have been possible with a more traditional narrative. Each character has a different relationship with the murdered officer and the crime, and as they join the story, they help build a more complete picture of the situation, and the victim, even as the issues become murkier.
The Brotherhood is a confronting yet compelling novel that combines police procedural with crime drama. I really enjoyed the way in which Erskine confronts the grey areas of law and order that are too often reduced to headlines manipulated for controversy or ignored in favour of political expediency. I am eagerly awaiting the publication of Erskine's next novel, The Betrayal.
Yvette Erskine spent eleven years in the Tasmania Police Service. She was active in frontline policing, served as a detective in the CIB and as an investigator in a high-profile, two-year covert task force investigating an international abalone smuggling ring. In her spare time she was member of the elite Protective Security Section. She also has a teaching degree and spent six months trying to enthuse teenagers about English and History before admitting that she had failed spectacularly and should have stuck to locking them up instead.
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