The Devil in the Red Dirt is a historical fiction novel by Michael P. Smith taking place in Australia in the mid-60s. It follows a corrupt detective, a damaged but well meaning detective and an aboriginal man who had lost his identity as they search the gorgeous and troubled physical and mental landscape of Australia seeking the demented killer of innocent children who seems to have people in power covering their tracks.
The Devil in the Red Dirt is an excellent read. It covers some incredibly difficult topics ranging from racism to child abuse to death and drug use. These difficult topics are covered in all their filthy detail, making sure this novel not for the faint of heart. If any of the topics mentioned this book easily disturb you, this book is not for you. However, I found the disturbing nature of the story made it an excellent work of fiction, and more so, an excellent mystery. Smith does an excellent job of leaving you wanting to know more and how this villain will pay for their crimes, or if the morally bankrupt society they live in will win out!
As stated before, The Devil in the Red Dirt is an excellent, though very dark, novel. The story is well written and the main characters, who are all well rounded and twisted enough to feel real. The side characters are equally intriguing. Smith has provided us with a cast of colorful and realistic criminals, creating a fantastic display of the Australian criminal world in the 60s. Even when the story slips away from the main characters, you can find yourself still interested in the activities of the background cast. This means the story avoids the dull and mind numbing side stories that can often pop up in a novel’s supporting characters. The lives of each person mentioned form in to a wonderful over arching tapestry of human failings.
The Devil in the Red Dirt is an excellent book that fans of historical fiction, crime, or mystery could enjoy. Though don’t go in to it if you’re too squeamish about the dark side of the human species.
I got my copy of Devil in The Red Dirt from Reedsy Discovery https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/the-devil-in-the-red-dirt-mike-smith#review