Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Jack Irish: Bad Debts

(Australia, 2012)

The Australian writer Peter Temple has written four novels featuring this character, and ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has made three of them into full-length television movies. We were alerted to them by a promo on a DVD of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (which we highly recommend).

In this first episode Jack is a sharp lawyer, and very quickly his wife is murdered by a deranged client. We skip some years into the future, and he has changed a lot. He lives in a cool loft, still does law but of a much more simplified kind, and works with two other men doing semi-legal and flatly illegal stuff around race tracks, aimed at removing a lot of the elements of chance and skill from the races. Sometimes just altering the odds, sometimes actually fixing the races. He also works as an apprentice to an elderly cabinet maker, not for the money but for the peace of mind working with one’s hands can afford. He is ably played by Guy Pearce, an actor I’ve always liked, and now he has his Aussie accent back. The stories are gritty, involving the underworld and nasty government shenanigans. The Melbourne locations are lovely. I’m so bummed that I never visited that fair city when I was Down Under.