Man at the Window is the debut thriller from Australian Robert Jeffreys, as he introduces us to a new defective detective, Detective Sergeant Cardilini, a man that seems to be on a mission to destroy his own career as rapidly as possible, almost succeeding.
Man at the Window is set in 1965 at St Nicholas’ College, an Australian version of Eton, without the fagging, but the prefects doing similar. The elite of Perth have attended, or their sons have attended, this school with its reputation for excellence. When a teacher is killed at the school, and the decision has been made that Cardilini is to be sent to make sure the paperwork is in order, and the teacher was killed by a stray bullet.
Cardilini can be relied upon to come up with the same decision, he will want to be back in the pub at opening time and carry on from where he left off the day before. Since his wife Betty died, he spends more time drinking that he does paying attention to his son, Paul.
Given a minder, Cardilini sets off to investigate the shooting of the teacher. But what he finds as he begins his investigation annoys him, especially as even he recognises that protocols and procedures have not been followed. What really starts to annoy him is the attitude of the staff and students who are telling him his conclusion to his report. This, for the first time in a long time, spurs him on to investigate.
What Cardilini does infuriates everyone, he is actually doing his job properly, and the senior officers are concerned. When a complaint comes in, he is suspended from duty, so that the conclusion that has been decided upon will be put forward. For once, Cardilini does the decent thing, he wants the truth to come out and continues the investigation, even if it means the end of his career.
This is an interesting character, who ticks all the boxes as a defective detective, with the drink problem and life going down the tubes. Fighting his demons and those that wish to see him fail, he finally sobers up enough to realise he is at the end of the platform. Can he solve the murder? He needs this more than he realises.
Paul Diggett 3*
Man at the Window by Robert Jeffreys
Zaffre 9781785769290 pbk Nov 2019