Jon Cleary was born in Australia in 1917, which means he was 75 when he wrote this detective novel, and so it is no surprise that he tells his story in a pleasantly old-fashioned way. He shows just as much interest in the complications of Australia´s racial background than in developing a good, gripping “whodunit” plot.
Scobie Malone, his Sydney detective inspector, is asked to solve a murder case in a small rural community, Collamundra. He sets out in his car, together with his colleague Russ Clements. Both take their time and don´t jump to quick solutions, when they are made familiar with the crime by the local police.
A Japanese manager of a cotton company has been shot, a young aborigine hangs himself in his cell. The two detectives from Sydney meet with a hostile reception, not only from parts of the local police, but also from the Collamundra society, where the old squattocracy still rules. Cleary likes to dwell on the racial prejudices of others and his personal political correctness, and so he lets Maloney not only find the murderer but also some of the skeletons in the Collamundra cupboard. And the story is a melancholic farewell to the bygone old days of Australia,too.
For Australia fans, like this reader here, it is a must to read Cleary´s earlier novels next.